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EPA Rolls Out New Power Plant Emissions Rules, Prompting Backlash



May 12, 2023 - West Virginia officials are pushing back on newly-released emissions standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The standards announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require utilities to either reduce or capture emissions tied to climate change. One way of complying with the rules could be through the use of carbon capture technology, but that traditionally has been too expensive for viability.

Shelley Moore Capito

“The Clean Power Plan 2.0 announced today is the Biden administration’s most blatant attempt yet to close down power plants and kill American energy jobs,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

“At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to fill up their tanks and pay their utility bills under President Biden, it’s reprehensible that this administration would clamp down even further on domestic energy production while advancing policies meant to increase demand for electricity.”

Joe Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., responded that if EPA goes through with the new standards, then he’ll oppose every nominee for the agency.

“This is the only way I can get their attention to make sure they know we’re for real; we’re not going to allow this craziness to happen in this country,” Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said during a briefing with reporters this week.

Carol Miller

Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., described the latest EPA actions as an extension of the “war on coal.”

“Energy security is national security, and I will do everything in my power to stop the Green New Deal from infiltrating the pro-American energy policies House Republicans are fighting for,” Miller stated.

Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, was at the center of a legal battle against the federal Clean Power Plan, which resulted in a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that curtailed federal agency authority.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has placed significant limits on what the EPA can do—we plan on ensuring that those limits are upheld, and we expect that we would once again prevail in court against this out-of-control agency,” Morrisey stated today.

EPA said its new standards for coal- and gas-powered plants will avoid emissions of up to 617 million metric tons of total carbon dioxide (CO2) through 2042. The proposals would also result in cutting tens of thousands of tons of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide, the agency says.

EPA says its proposed standards include:

  • strengthening the current New Source Performance Standards for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines, which are usually natural-gas-fired
  • establishing emission guidelines for states to follow in limiting carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel-fired steam generating units, including coal, oil and natural gas-fired units
  • Establishing emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines, generally natural gas-fired.

Michael Regan

EPA administrator Michael Regan called the changes a “once in a generation opportunity for real climate action during an event today on campus at the University of Maryland.

“Not only will this proposal improve air quality nationwide,” Regan said, “but it will bring substantial health benefits to communities all across the country — especially our front-line communities, our environmental justice communities, communities that have unjustly born the burden of pollution for decades.”