(CNSNews.com) - Invoking its powers under the Clean Air Act, the EPA on Friday told the coal industry it must change the way it does business, for the sake of the planet and future generations.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a gathering at the National Press Club that far from damaging the coal industry, the new pollution regulations issued on Friday will "actually promote" the industry by preparing it to be competitive in a "carbon-constrained world."
"Now we know...that our standards, rather than doing damage, can actually promote an industry sector to grow," McCarthy said. "And what we did here in this proposal was we worked strongly with the utilities to understand what technologies are available; we will work with them over the comment period (all proposed regulations come with a comment period) so they understand what type of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (technology) will be necessary and at what level...but it's going to get them prepared as time goes on to be competitive in a carbon-constrained world."
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to cut pollution from new coal-fired power plants (existing ones will come later) by setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
The developing technology that will achieve this is called Carbon Capture and Sequestration, or CCS for short.
McCarthy said the EPA's intention is to regulate pollution by understanding what kind of reductions are "achievable," and "without doing significant damage to the companies that we're regulating."
She hailed the "wonderful cost-benefit analysis" EPA has done -- so the American people "can understand the impacts of our rule, from the public health protection to the costs associated with it.
"And in this case, we think we have done exactly the right job in looking at what the science and the data tells us, and again, to make a sensible, reasonable step forward to address what is essentially one of the greatest public health challenges of our time."
The EPA says power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
The agency is seeking public comment on the proposal, including holding a public hearing, and it says it will take that input "fully into account" as it completes the rule-making process.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity accused the Obama administration of "talking out of both side of its mouth" when it come to "meaningful, long-term coal policy."
"Despite their talk about an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy, the EPA is banning the construction of modern coal plants, resulting in fewer fuel choices in the market. Fewer energy choices could cause American consumers to pay the ultimate price of higher energy bills," said ACCCE President and CEO Robert M. "Mike" Duncan in a statement on the group's website.
"Ironically, the EPA’s proposal could actually do long-term harm to the environment. By stopping the development of new coal plants, the EPA is halting the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. This misguided policy only adds insult to injury to an industry which has successfully used clean coal technologies to reduce many emissions by more than 90 percent."