Three months after President Obama vowed to get tough on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday begins that mission by announcing long-awaited rules for new power plants that, while slightly watered down, will be tough on the beleaguered coal industry.
The regulations, under development for two years and recently finalized, set harsh limits on carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power-generation facilities and could, critics argue, eventually spell doom for American fossil fuels.
It’s the first major action in the White House’s broad climate change agenda, cited by the president as one of his top second-term priorities. New guidelines on existing plants are likely to be announced next year.
Taken together, the moves could spur a dramatic shift in American energy and power generation, with Friday’s announcement serving as a first step toward the ultimate goal, analysts say.
“What this rule is — it’s a foot in the door to end coal, but not only that, to end natural gas as well,” said Daniel Simmons, director of regulatory and state affairs at the conservative Institute for Energy Research.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is expected to announce regulations Friday morning that will be less stringent than previous proposals. Earlier drafts, for example, limited coal-fired power plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.