EPA attacks power plants for greenhouse gas emissions

Alexa Fee Contributor
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The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released a list of the major emitters of greenhouse gases in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported. Of the top 100 emitters, 96 were power plants.

The report identified a total of 6,700 U.S. facilities that the EPA monitored in 2010.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, qualified as air pollutants under the Clear Air Act. Since then the EPA has been establishing new greenhouse gas standards, including regulations that will control emissions from vehicles and force power plants and other large facilities to get federal government permits before building or expanding.

In 2008, Congress required that the EPA begin releasing data about carbon dioxide and air quality. Wednesday’s report is the first such report the EPA has released to the public.

The top three emitters were coal-fired power plants owned by Southern Co. The EPA estimates that each plant released roughly 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010. Two of the plants are located in Georgia and the other is in Alabama.

Fourth on the list was another power plant, one owned by Energy Future Holdings Corp. in Texas. Fifth was Duke Energy Corp.’s plant in Indiana.

The EPA is expected to establish additional standards for power plants. EPA air chief Gina McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday that the agency is “looking forward to trying to adhere to” Congress’s expectations.

Republicans see the EPA’s regulatory control over greenhouse gases as an attack on corporations that will result in job losses. The GOP and industry groups argue that the EPA does not have the authority under existing laws to force these plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Republicans are considering legislation that would prevent the EPA from imposing these regulations on the energy industry, while industry groups are working to overturn the rules the agency has already implemented.

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