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EPA delays proposed carbon pollution standards on existing gas plants in disappointing setback to regulating climate and clean air emissions from the U.S. power sector

February 29, 2024

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will not finalize carbon pollution standards for existing gas-fired power plants this spring. Clean Air Task Force (CATF) supports EPA taking steps to reduce non-carbon pollutants from natural gas power plants but is disappointed that EPA has failed to finalize strong emissions standards for greenhouse gases, despite already having what it needs to do so. 

“Unfortunately, March Madness started early this year with EPA failing to control greenhouse gas emissions from existing gas plants,” says Frank Sturges, Attorney at Clean Air Task Force. “The shot clock is winding down for reducing power plant emissions, and rather than taking the shot to eliminate emissions from existing gas plants, EPA has chosen to sit on the bench. We are extremely disappointed in EPA’s decision to delay finalizing carbon pollution standards for existing gas plants, which make up a significant portion of carbon emissions in the power sector. Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants have gone uncontrolled for far too long, and we have no more time to waste.”   

Without regulation, the share of power sector carbon pollution from existing gas plants is projected to nearly double by 2040, growing from more than 40% to 70%. EPA has not provided a timeline for when they will finalize new rules for controlling emissions from these sources. 

“While the standards on new gas plants and existing coal plants are a welcome step in the right direction,” added Sturges, “alone they are not enough.”  

Just last week, the agency’s own Science Advisory Board found the greenhouse gas emission reductions from EPA’s proposed suite of power plant regulations, including existing natural gas plants, are insufficient to meet the United States’ national climate goals and could be strengthened by doing more on existing natural gas plants. CATF’s comments to the agency show that EPA can set emission limits for these plants that achieve significant emissions reductions while maintaining system reliability.    

Not finalizing existing gas standards this spring risks a significant shift in generation and emissions from existing coal plants to existing gas plants. EPA can and should finalize an emissions standard that covers a broader swath of existing gas plants, not just a few. In CATF’s joint comments with the Natural Resources Defense Council and The Nature Conservancy last summer on EPA’s proposed rule, we recommended that EPA expand coverage of a carbon capture and storage-based emission limit on existing gas-fired plants to those with capacity above 600 megawatts and total capacity utilization of more than 45%. Making that change would increase the emissions covered by combined cycle units by 78% over the proposal while increasing the number of covered plants by only 30%. EPA already has the information it needs in the record to support finalization of an existing gas standard.  

Presse Kontakt

Samantha Sadowski, Kommunikationsmanagerin, USA, ssadowski@catf.us, +1 202-440-1717

Über Clean Air Task Force 

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With more than 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit catf.us and follow @cleanaircatf. 

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