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Idea of the Day: The Survival of Coal Depends on the EPA’s Proposed Carbon-Pollution Standards

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The cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, released on June 25, is the production of cleaner electricity by cutting carbon pollution from power plants. These facilities are the largest source of climate pollution in the United States. On September 20, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, took a big step by proposing carbon-pollution standards for future coal and natural gas power plants.

Coal-fired electricity produces 30 percent of all domestic carbon pollution. Although there are strict limits on other power plant pollutants—including mercury and ingredients for smog and acid rain—there are no limits on carbon pollution. Under the proposed EPA standards, however, new coal plants would have to produce 40 percent less carbon pollution than the best-performing plants in use today. The new limits would ensure that future coal plants contribute about the same amount of carbon pollution as natural gas plants. This would provide a path for future, cleaner coal-powered electricity in a carbon-constrained world.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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