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EPA Proposes Limit on Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed its first-ever limit on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

The EPA's new regulations will limit carbon dioxide emissions from future fossil fuel power plants to 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. That's too low of a threshold for many coal-fired power plants.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy said the new CO2 emissions limit will drive up energy prices and destroy jobs. In a written statement, ACCCE President Steve Miller described the new CO2 regulations as the "latest attempt to shutter America's coal industry."

"This latest rule will make it impossible to build any new coal-fueled power plants, and could cause the premature closure of many more coal-fueled power plants operating today," wrote Miller.

However, David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council said the new rules reflect a shift away from new coal plants in the energy industry.

"And the primary reason for that is that natural gas is cheap and plentiful," said Doniger. "Just on the pure economics, what would you build? Executives of these power companies are choosing gas."

Doniger said power plants are the biggest cause of CO2 pollution in the country. He said carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that can also contribute to respiratory health problems like asthma.

"In Pennsylvania, there's more than a million people, including 260,000 children, suffering from asthma," Doniger said. That's more than one in every 13 people in the Commonwealth.

The new EPA regulations won't take effect until they're approved by the Obama administration. The agency has opened up a public comment period for thirty days; public hearings will be scheduled as well.