NRDC proposes emissions standards for existing generation
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today announced a proposal it claims will cut carbon emissions at U.S. power plants by 26 percent and stimulate more than $90 billion dollars in renewable energy and efficiency investments by 2020.
NRDC is optimistic that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will implement the proposal through its authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. The proposal builds upon the EPA's Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) by expanding emissions requirements to existing power plants and could lead to as much as 90GW of coal generation retirement. The proposal includes flexible compliance options and graduated reduction targets, which will be calculated by states based on their existing energy mix and perceived ability to reduce emissions.
"The report overturns conventional wisdom that relying on the Clean Air Act has to be expensive and won't make much difference," said Dan Lashof, Director of NRDC's Climate and Clean Air Program, in a Tuesday announcement.
Emissions goals will vary by state based on the state's existing energy mix and perceived ability to phase out harmful emissions. An ICF analysis showed that the plan would cut carbon emissions by more than 500 million tons in 2020, Lashof said.
NRDC projects annualized compliance costs of $4 billion a year for utilities, but Lashof noted that he doesn't expect wholesale electric prices to rise if the plan is adopted. The model is also designed to maintain reserve margins and includes built-in demand response provisions to ensure grid reliability.
The proposal comes on the heels of several damaging storms, including Superstorm Sandy, which many attribute to global warming and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
"The dangers of these changed weather patterns is truly terrifying when you see it first hand," said NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner. "We know where the pollution is, now we have to go after it."
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