The EPA proposal does not apply to existing power plants or to those whose owners being construction within the next 12 months.
EPA said that some states, including Washington, Oregon and California, already limit greenhouse gas emissions. Others, such as Montana and Illinois, currently require CCS for any new coal-fired generation stations.
Jackson and the Obama administration has promised to move forward with greenhouse-gas limits under a legal settlement with environmental groups, and following the failure in Congress of legislative proposals for comprehensive climate change actions.
Most scientists recommend that 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.
EPA said that market data and projections show utilities are switching away from coal-fired power plants anyway, but that its proposal would provide "regulatory certainty" regarding greenhouse limits, a necessity if CCS technology is to be widely deployed.
"Rather than relying solely on changeable energy market conditions to provide low emissions from new power plants in the future, this rule prevents the possible construction of uncontrolled, high-emitting new sources that might continue to emit at high levels for decades, contributing to accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere," EPA said in a report outlining its proposal's potential impacts.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.