The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to use new limits on traditional pollutants like ozone and coal ash to help encourage the retirement of the nation’s remaining coal-fired power plants, after the Supreme Court limited the agency’s ability to impose sweeping climate regulations, according to EPA chief Michael Regan.
The approach reflects how the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden intends to forge ahead with goals to decarbonize the power sector despite the recent ruling from the court. The power industry is the source of a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gases and Biden campaigned on a pledge to cut its net emissions to zero by 2035.
“Will [the Supreme Court decision] constrain what we could do and the flexibilities that we could allow the power sector to have? Absolutely,” Regan said in an interview with Reuters. “But are we deterred? Absolutely not. EPA is still in the game.”
Regan, who was speaking to Reuters during a tour of polluted sites in Puerto Rico, said the court’s ruling would mean that a rule the EPA hopes to unveil next year to tackle carbon emissions from power plants will be narrower than it otherwise would have been.
But he said the EPA is also working on several other rules targeting power plants, including requirements for the disposal of toxic coal ash and enhancements to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. When combined, the rules will signal to the U.S. power industry that clean energy is the most cost-effective way to comply, he said. [Continue reading…]