The Obama Administration published long-awaited climate-change regulations for fossil-fuel-burning power plants today.
However, the legal challenges from states and private companies have already been lining up, even as they make preparations to comply with the changes.
The regulations, published today in the Federal Register, apply to power plants generating electricity from fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas. It caps the amount of carbon dioxide emissions allowable from such plants to 1,400 pounds per Megawatt-hour generated.
The lower level is based on predictions of few new fossil-fuel-fired plants being built, and a big increase in the use of renewables, the rule explains.
“Numerous studies have predicted that few new fossil fuel-fired steam generating units will be constructed in the future,” the EPA wrote. “These analyses identify a range of factors unrelated to this rulemaking, including low electricity demand growth, highly competitive natural gas prices, and increases in the supply of renewable energy.”
The deadline for petitioning for judicial review of the rule is Dec. 22 – putting the timeframe beyond the much-anticipated international climate-change negotiations scheduled to begin on Nov. 30 in Paris.
Already a queue of states and power companies have announced their intention to sue over the rules. However, those entities are simultaneously drafting plans to comply with the rules, since the legal future of the challenges is anything but assured, according to The New York Times. For instance, Georgia has announced plans to sue the EPA – but is already making changes.
States have to submit their plans by 2016, according to the rule. Five states – Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Oklahoma – have reportedly threatened to do nothing.
Outside the U.S., talks have been heating up in advance of the Paris conference. One of the make-or-break issues is whether the poor nations feel they are going to be helped enough by developed nations in the event of future environmental consequences, according to Reuters.
President Barack Obama directed the EPA to draft new power-plant regulations in June 2013. This year he has said that a major objective of his final year in office is to tackle the climate-change question. As part of his campaign this summer he toured Alaska – specifically cited in the new rule today as the region of the U.S. with perhaps the most to lose if the globe continues to warm.
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