The Obama administration made climate change history this morning by enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies. Refusing to bow to pressure from the coal industry, the administration stood firm on their decision to set greenhouse gas limits for both existing and new power plants, a plan that was originally announced last year. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy unveiled the agency’s newly revised proposal today at the National Press Club.

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The devastating consequences of climate change have wrecked havoc across our nation, from Superstorm Sandy to widespread droughts and long-burning wildfires. In today’s announcement, McCarthy recognized the severity of the issue, calling it “one of the greatest challenges of our time.” She went on to say that the EPA’s new pollution standards, which were created with the help of some two million public comments, are critical to protecting Americans’ health and the environment.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. In 2012, 40 percent of all energy-related emissions were traced back to power plants and studies point to coal-burning power plants as the worst offenders. The EPA’s new plans will restrict new large gas-fired power plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour, and new coal plants to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide. The EPA will have until June 2014 to deliver a proposal to clean up older power plants.

By limiting their emissions, power companies will be forced to invest in cleaner, carbon capture technology. Strong opposition, however, can be expected from Republican lawmakers and industrial officials, who argue that the cost of electricity will skyrocket as a result of these new policies.  Following the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register, the EPA’s public comment period will be open for 60 days.

Via NY Times

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