US sets new carbon standard for power plants

Standard coal plants emit nearly 1,800 pounds of carbon pollution an hour.

Updated: Mar 28, 2012, 09:12 AM IST

Washington: The United States today set the
first national standards on carbon emissions from power
plants, taking aim at the burning of coal, which is considered
a top culprit in climate change.

After more than a year of deliberations on the
politically charged proposal, President Barack Obama`s
administration said it would only apply the rules to future
sites and paved the way for more coal-fired plants if they are

Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection
Agency, said she was approving the regulations in a hope to
"enhance the lives of our children and our children`s
children" and to spur US global leadership in clean energy.

"We know that the potential impact of climate change
touches everything from tourism to agriculture and will have
an extraordinary environmental and economic footprint if
allowed to proceed unchecked," she told reporters on a
conference call.

Jackson said that after a 12-year grace period for sites
under construction, the agency would not allow power plants to
emit more than 454 kilograms (1,000 pounds) of carbon
pollution per megawatt hour.

Natural gas generates slightly less than that, but
standard coal plants emit nearly 1,800 pounds an hour.
Renewable energy such as solar and wind -- along with nuclear
power -- produces far less.

Electricity generation in the world`s largest economy
emits 41 per cent of the country`s carbon emissions, which
scientists blame for the planet`s rising temperatures and
increasingly severe weather.

The Obama administration has vowed to reduce US carbon
emissions, but its efforts face strong opposition from
industry and the rival Republican Party, many of whose members
question the science behind climate change.

Proposals by Obama`s allies to set up a nationwide system
to curb carbon emissions have died in Congress. UN-led
negotiations on a new climate treaty have also made little
concrete progress, with China -- which has surpassed the
United States as the top carbon emitter -- demanding greater
US commitment.