Americans looking to kickstart the shift away from dirty energy scored a big victory this week, as the Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits on heat-trapping pollution from new power plants. The proposed regs would require new plants to emit about 43 percent less carbon dioxide than existing coal-fired generators.
“Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, said in a statement. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow.”
Needless to say, coal industry officials and GOP politicians are pissed. “This standard effectively bans new coal plants,” one lobbyist told The Washington Post.
Maybe so. But the coal industry is already in decline, as utilities shift away from the black stuff and toward natural gas, which emits significantly less carbon.
“The market has already shifted,” said Ned Helme of the Center for Clean Air Policy, who further noted that gas plants employ the same number of workers as coal plants. “It’s simply a shift from a dirtier fuel to a cleaner fuel.”
Surely that’s a good thing.
Photo: David J. Phillip / AP