US sets new carbon standard for power plants



US sets new carbon standard for power plants 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 upgraded.

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.

PTI