The White House
Next Monday President Obama will unveil a new
regulation that would aim to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired
power stations by up to 20 per cent, the New York Times
It will be the boldest move yet in his efforts
to force America to take climate change action, despite opposition
from the US Congress.
In a speech this week, Obama denounced those that "deny" climate
"American influence is always stronger
when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules
that apply to everyone else… cooperation must energize the global
effort to combat climate change."
Next Monday's proposal stems from Obama's
Climate Action Plan, published last summer. This aims to back
up a pledge
to take US emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 and to
cut them 42 per cent by 2030.
At the President's
request the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalised
an emissions limit for new power stations last autumn, using
hard-won powers to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act. The EPA
is working towards a 1 June 2014 deadline for a similar rule
tackling emissions from existing power stations.
standard for new plants sets a limit of 500 kilograms of carbon
dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity for plants that burn coal,
meaning that they would have to fit carbon capture and storage
equipment capturing a portion of their emissions in order to
The limit is similar to one that opposition MPs
failed to introduce into the UK's Energy Bill last year. It is
about half the emissions of a typical coal plant.
The EPA won't be able to introduce a similar rule for existing
plants because it would force almost all of the country's 600
coal-fired generators to shut down. These plants provide
around two-fifths of US electricity.
reports suggest the rule would aim to reduce coal emissions by
20 per cent at the national level rather than applying directly to