New carbon legislation could end coal fuelled plants in US

The Obama administration is expected soon to unveil long-delayed rules limiting carbon emissions from new coal-fired power stations, possibly helping to slam the door shut well into the future on building plants that run on the fuel.

The Calgary Herald reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has dragged its feet on proposing the new standards on carbon emissions that would hit new coal plants or facilities undergoing expansion.

The short-term impact of the rules, the first to limit U.S. carbon emissions from new power stations, is expected to be symbolic — the rules will not tackle existing plants, which would have been far more disruptive to the industry.

The EPA rules have pushed utilities to close more than 30 coal-fired plants, and companies have announced plans to shut at least 130 more through 2020. No new coal-fired plants were started in the US in 2011, but more may be needed in the future if the economy recovers and natural gas prices rebound.

The carbon rules could require new coal-fired power plants to capture a portion, up to 60 per cent, of their carbon emissions and bury them permanently underground, or take other measures to reduce emissions.

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