Gina McCarthy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator for air and radiation, told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that she expects coal to remain an important part of the U.S. energy mix, according to a report from Reuters.
McCarthy, who is President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the federal agency in charge of regulating pollution, made the comments under questioning while seeking Senate confirmation to replace Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator.
"Coal has been and will continue to be a significant source of energy in the United States, and I take my job seriously when developing those standards to provide flexibility in the rules," she said.
According to reports, McCarthy said the EPA will give companies leeway to make changes to comply with new emissions standards affecting the power generation industry.
McCarthy's comments came shortly before the April 13 deadline for the EPA to finalize its New Source Performance Standard, which, as it is currently written, would restrict emissions to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide for new power plants. Many people have said the standard would prevent the construction of any new coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
The Washington Post has reported the EPA is likely to miss the deadline to finalize the NSPS regulations and that individuals familiar with the matter said the delay might allow the agency to set a separate, more lenient standard for coal-fired power plants.