Obama's Call for Carbon Emissions Limits Welcomed by Environmental Groups, Opposed by Coal Industry

Tackling climate change was one of the main issues addressed in Obama’s inaugural speech in January. Now his administration seems to be keeping to that promise, announcing major carbon emission standards for new power plants.

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told the National Press Club Friday that climate change negatively impacts water, air and public health. To the Obama Administration, cutting off emissions at power plants would be a huge step.

“Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution," McCarthy said. "New power plants -- both natural gas and coal-fired -- can minimize their carbon emissions by taking advantage of available modern technology. These technologies offer them a clear pathway forward today and in the long term.”

Zane Daniels, president of the Ohio Coal Association, says the EPA has set unachievable standards. He counters that the technology McCarthy is referring to is unproven, cost prohibitive, and not even commercially available.

“We have serious concerns about the impact these rules will have on grid reliability and electricity prices across the country," Daniels said. "To make it essentially illegal to burn coal and take that much generation off the grid can have potentially devastating consequences.”

Daniels adds that companies have already made great strides by advancing clean coal technology.

On the other side of the issue were environmental groups around the state that united to commend the new standards.

Tracy Sabetta, spokesperson for the National Wildlife Federation, says these measures will enhance and protect the environment for future generations.

“This is a pretty historic measure taken by the president and the U.S. EPA," Sabetta said. "Carbon pollution has been proven to contribute up to 40 percent of the pollution that causes climate change.”

The EPA administrator also announced that the agency is beginning to start discussions on implementing carbon emission standards for existing power plants.

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