EPA Issues Revised Greenhouse Gas EGU Performance Standard
Posted on January 27, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on January 8, 2014, proposed a revised new source performance standard (NSPS), under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new electric utility generating units (EGUs). 79 Fed. Reg. 1429. EPA originally proposed the NSPS—which would be the first NSPS for greenhouse gases (GHGs)—in in April 2012. 77 Fed. Reg. 22392. However, after receiving 2.5 million public comments, EPA went back to the drawing board. The revised NSPS proposes an emission limit of 1,100 lbs CO2/MWh for fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units that burn coal, petroleum coke and other fossil fuels that is based on partial implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the best system of emission reduction.
The NSPS proposes separate standards for natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines, which are based on modern, efficient natural gas combined cycle technology (i.e., not CCS) as the best system of emission reduction. For turbines with a heat-input rating greater than 850 MMBtu/h, the proposed limit is 1,000 lbs CO2/MWh; for those with heat-input ratings below 850 MMBtu/h, the limit would be slightly higher: 1,100 lbs CO2/MWh. EPA’s original proposal, which was withdrawn contemporaneously with the revised proposal, 77 Fed. Reg. 1352, set a single limit for all types of EGUs.
In support of its decision that CCS was the best system of emission reduction for coal plants, EPA noted that nearly all of the coal-fired power plants currently under development are designed to use some type of CCS; for example, the Texas Clean Energy Project and Hydrogen Energy California plan to build IGCC plants that will capture approximately 90 percent of the produced CO2.
The revised NSPS would only regulate new EGUs, not existing or modified units, and would exempt those that sell less than one-third of their electric output to the grid. EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed NSPS until March 10, 2014.