Government introduces new regulations aimed at fighting climate change
On May 11, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new regulation that would reduce the amount of pollution created by power plants. The regulation would cap their allowable pollution rates. The federal government has never before placed restrictions on how much carbon dioxide existing power plants were permitted to emit.
The proposed regulation would apply to both current and future plants. By 2038, any plants that failed to reduce most of their emissions of carbon dioxide would not be permitted to stay open. This was the latest in a series of regulations that the Biden administration has rolled out in an effort to fight climate change.
Others include an effort to cut how much methane is leaking from gas and oil wells as well as reducing tailpipe emissions. The latter is intended to speed widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Along with individuals, businesses may need to start looking at how they can adapt to using an electric fleet and whether they may need to savings in the long run.
Business owners looking to buy more electric vehicles can review a guide to find out the distance on a single charge that an EV can travel. In addition, the guide covers various charger options and various ways tech can help optimize an EV range of vehicles. The power plant regulations alone would have the same effect that removing emissions from one of every two cars throughout the country would.
Combined with the Biden administration’s other initiatives, the regulations, if passed, will substantially reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that the US releases into the atmosphere. The plan faces opposition from Republican lawmakers and some in the mining and fossil fuel industries. After all a local farms approach and that of a major corporation are going to be quite different.
In 2013, President Barack Obama attempted to bring in more solar panels and wind farms along with regulating power plant emissions, but the Supreme Court blocked the change. However, in 2022, the same court ruled that the EPA was permitted to set rules on allowable carbon dioxide emissions although its powers were still limited. There are likely to be legal challenges mounted to the latest proposal, and the job of the courts will be to determine how far the authority of the EPA can stretch.
The EPA has struggled to create regulations that will not be struck down in the same way similar ones were during the Obama administration and that will be more difficult for subsequent administrations to roll back. Legality is not the only concern raised by opponents. They have also warned that the regulations are designed to entirely push out plants powered by natural gas and coal, that prices could increase, and that blackouts and power shortages could be on the rise.
Supporters point out that if the regulations are adopted, air quality will improve substantially, and consumers will have more opportunities to use clean power. Taken along with the other proposals from the Biden administration, the country may be much closer to meeting its climate-related goals sooner rather than later. The use of coal and natural gas is already on the decline, with gas and coal combined producing just 60% of the electricity in the country while hydropower, wind, and other renewables along with nuclear power make up the other 40%.
Emissions have been on the decline, but stronger action is necessary to reach President Biden’s stated goal of reducing them to half of the 2005 level by 2030. Since the U.S. wants to slash carbon emissions, coal, and gas fired plants that are in heavy use will be particularly vulnerable under the proposed regulations. Stopping their emissions may prove difficult since the technology that allows this to happen at the smokestack is new and costly.
However, many large utility companies support the regulations. According to the EPA, the proposed regulation will offer flexibility and will vary the limits it sets based on such criteria as how large and busy the plant is. Government subsidies will help offset some of the costs of hydrogen and carbon capture systems that may be necessary for coal and gas plants to remain open.
In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act offers tax credits to industrial companies that use electric generators. These types of initiatives are one of the reasons the EPA has determined that its requirements will be affordable.