The Obama administration has been put on hold with their proposal for carbon emission limits according to a recent New York Times article. The administration faces challenges from opponents who believe that the technology lacks proof based on the laws required. The draft ruling was announced by Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. To control what the agency can do, laws were enacted that limit what rules the agency can make.
The EPA makes rules that demand certain standards in emissions. How these emissions are met also have rules that are required to be “adequately demonstrated.” The current proposal would limit gas-fired power plants to 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour and new coal plants to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide. The current CO2 emissions for fired power plants are at 1,800 pounds per megawatt-hour. A single megawatt-hour is capable of supplying power to a typical American family for roughly one month.
The issue lies with the captured carbon dioxide being “sequestered” underground. Currently, there are no laws written about disposal of carbon dioxide underground. There are currently three stages of carbon capture that are in development. The first and most common method attempts to convert coal into a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and to recover the CO2 at two different stages. Another method involves burning coal and using an ammonia process to grab the carbon dioxide out of the flue gas.
The other major concern is the budget to accomplish the emission goals. In Mississippi, the Kemper county plant is attempting to be built. This plant will convert coal to gases which will then filter out the carbon dioxide, ultimately reducing emissions by 65 percent. The plant would cost $5 billion which is unfortunately $1 billion over the allotted budget. This is something that many plants trying to rebuild their system are facing in light of the new emission laws set by the EPA.
Both environmentalists and industrialists will want to keep a close eye on these developments as any regulations are sure to have far reaching consequences, good or bad.