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Coal plant. AP Photo Coal plant. AP Photo  

Georgia coal plant rushes to beat new EPA emissions rules

Developers of a coal-fired power plant in Georgia said they are in a “dead sprint” to start building their new plant to be exempted before new Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations are finalized on April 13.

Allied Energy Services, the developer of the Plant Washington coal facility near Sandersville, Ga., needs to have began construction on the coal plant by April 13 in order to be exempted from a new EPA rule that limits carbon dioxide emissions to 1,000 pounds-per-megawatt-hour for new power plants — a standard that can only be met by combined-cycle power plants that are powered by natural gas.

The rule has been criticized for effectively banning the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because they are too carbon intensive to meet the stricter emissions limits. The only way for coal plants to comply with the stricter standard would be to use carbon capture and sequestration technology, which is not commercially viable.

According to the environmental law firm, Beveridge and Diamond, “the rule would amount to an effective ban on new coal-fired power plants, as well as imposing severe restrictions on modification of existing plants.”

“The administration is using this new rule to accomplish what Congress refused to impose on the economy when it rejected cap-and-trade legislation,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “The result will be higher electricity prices and less reliable generation in addition to the high gasoline prices Americans are already struggling to afford.”

However, the Washington Post reported that the EPA may rewrite the rule and miss the April 13 deadline to finalize it.

“It’s critical to get this standard out without delay and get onto the standards for existing sources,” David Doniger, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Washington Post. “The deadline is coming, and if the deadline isn’t met they should expect groups like ours will take legal action to meet their responsibility.”

The Macon Telegraph reports that a delay in issuing new plant emissions rules could add to the regulatory uncertainty that has caused other coal plant projects around the country to be abandoned.

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