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EPA moving forward with emissions rules

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Obama administration this week quietly moved forward with plans to propose limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials on Monday submitted a proposed rule for approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget, which monitors rulemaking by all federal agencies.

"EPA will work with OMB throughout the interagency review process and will issue the proposal when this review is complete," said EPA spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara. "EPA has engaged in an extensive and open public process to gather the latest and best information."

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had previously delayed the proposed rules, missing a legal deadline -- worked out in a suit brought by environmental groups and some states -- to propose the rules by July 26, 2011. In Congress, several efforts by lawmakers, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to block or delay the rules for two years have failed.

Coal is one of the nation's largest sources of global warming pollution, representing a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, equal to the combined output of all cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats. Most scientists recommend the nation swiftly cut carbon dioxide emissions, reducing them by about 80 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

While coal industry supporters and many scientists believe that carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS, can be a part of the solution, there are major questions about the cost, scale and feasibility of equipment that would need to be installed on power plants around the world. And many experts caution that without mandated cuts in greenhouse emissions -- either by an EPA rule or act of Congress -- industry is unlikely to widely install expensive CCS equipment.

The Obama administration EPA has been moving toward regulating greenhouse gases under a July 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandated action if the agency's scientists concluded those emissions were endangering public health and welfare.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.

 


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