On September 20, 2013, EPA re-proposed greenhouse gas ("GHG") emission standards for new power plants. The rule was previously proposed in April 27, 2012, but due to numerous legal flaws with the rule, EPA went back to the drawing board to arrive at a new proposal. This time, the Agency has proposed two different standards for coal- and natural gas-fired units. The new proposed GHG limits for fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and IGCC units are as follows:      

  • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross over a 12-operating month period, or       
  • 1,000-1,050 lb CO2/MWh gross over an 84-operating month (7 year) period. 

Both of these limits will require carbon capture. For natural gas-fired stationary combustion units, two different limits have been proposed, depending on the size of the unit:

  • 1,000 lb CO2/MWh gross of larger units (? 850 mmBtu/hr)
  • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross for smaller units (= 850 mmBtu/hr)

Comments will be accepted by EPA for 60 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register.

Although EPA claims to have proposed different standards, the standards are really the same, and will require new coal-fired power plants to use carbon capture and sequestration, an untested technology that is not yet commercially available. As a result, we expect industry to raise many of the same legal challenges to the new proposal, as were raised against EPA's prior version.