Congressional Research Service on CCS: “no operating power plant combines [all CCS components] in an operating unit”

Editor’s Note: The new Congressional Research Service Report, “EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?” is attached here. Below is an excerpt.

From: Congressional Research Service

Carbon Pollution Standards for New and Existing Power Plants.

EPA has stated for some time that it would undertake a review of the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to consider greenhouse gas emission standards for electric generating units at the same time as it developed mercury and air toxics (MATS or MACT) standards for power plants. Electric generating units are the largest U.S. source of both greenhouse gas and mercury emissions, accounting for about one-third of all GHG emissions in addition to about half of U.S. mercury emissions. In a settlement agreement with 11 states and other parties, EPA agreed to propose the NSPS for power plants by July 26, 2011, and take final action on the proposal by May 26, 2012. This schedule encountered delays: proposed standards were not proposed until April 13, 2012.  EPA faced a statutory deadline of one year after the date of proposal (i.e., April 13, 2013) for promulgation of final standards, which it did not meet. The agency received more than 2.5 million comments on the proposed rule—the most it has received on any rule in its 40-year history.


EPA set the GHG emission standards as proposed in 2012 and as modified in 2013 at levels achievable by most natural-gas-fired units without added pollution controls or by coal-fired units using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to capture about 40% of their uncontrolled emissions. Although the components of CCS technology have been demonstrated, no operating power plant combines them all in an operating unit, and the electric power industry has generally concluded that a CCS requirement would effectively prohibit the construction of new coal-fired plants, other than those already permitted. EPA maintains otherwise, but it also says that, because of low natural gas prices and abundant existing generation capacity, it believes no new coal-fired units subject to the proposed standards will be constructed between now and 2020.

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