New coal-fired power plants will have a harder time getting built if they don't include technology that limits carbon emissions under proposed rules released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.
For the first time, the rules would put national limits on the amount of carbon released by power plants run by natural gas, coal or other fossil fuels. But they would apply only to new plants or plants set to begin construction within the next year.
The rules' effect in Oklahoma is expected to be limited — at least initially — because there are no current plans to build coal or natural gas power plants in the state.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the rules reflect industry moves toward natural gas as the fuel of choice for new electric power plants. The rules will limit future greenhouse gas emissions, she said.
“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,” Jackson said. “We're putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American-made technology to tackle a challenge that we can't leave to our kids and grandkids.”
Brian Alford, spokesman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., said the utility continues to monitor what he called an uncertain regulatory landscape when it comes to environmental standards.
“This swell of uncertainty is a driving force behind our goal of delaying the need for new, incremental fossil-fired generation until at least 2020,” Alford said. “We're hopeful that by that time, today's regulatory uncertainty will be put to rest, and we can make the appropriate decisions for our customers.”
Coal powers about 45 percent of the nation's electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration. Natural gas makes up 24 percent and nuclear provides 20 percent. The remainder is from wind, hydropower, solar and various biomass fuels.