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Statement on EPA’s Proposal to Cut Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants


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Statement on EPA’s Proposal to Cut Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants
SACE Applauds Action as a Necessary, Tangible Step in Addressing Climate Change

Knoxville, Tenn. (September 20, 2013) – Early this morning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced updated carbon pollution standards to set the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) from new fossil-fueled power plants. These new safeguards will limit emissions from new coal-fired units to no more than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced, with an option to phase in compliance more gradually; emissions from new natural gas-fired turbines will be limited to 1,000 or 1,100 pounds of CO2, depending on the size of the generator. EPA’s legal authority to enact such standards was granted by Congress through the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Supreme Court underscored that authority in 2007 when it definitively determined that carbon pollution is covered by the Clean Air Act.

Studies are confirming that carbon pollution fuels costly, even deadly, extreme weather events and worsens air quality resulting in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths and respiratory complications. Both extreme weather events and health threats have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities here in the Southeast, most notably children, the elderly, communities of color and low-income residents.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement in response to the new standards:

I applaud President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for taking this important step in addressing the challenges of climate change by ensuring that future power plants will not be allowed to dump unlimited carbon pollution into the air.

These standards will provide critical public health and clean air safeguards and encourage a needed transition from dirty coal to cleaner energy resources. Dirty energy projects, like Georgia’s proposed Plant Washington, simply cannot compete in today’s diverse energy markets when solar, wind, bioenergy and efficiency are clean, cost-competitive and viable options.

I urge EPA to finalize these standards and then move boldly to address the largest source of carbon pollution in our region and throughout the country: America’s aging fleet of existing coal-fired power plants, which account for more than 40% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at