Currently — May 12th, 2023: Biden's EPA to the rescue

What you need to know, currently.

The Biden administration proposed new carbon pollution standards on greenhouse gas emissions from gas and coal-fired power plants.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules, almost all of the United States’ coal and gas plants would have to reduce almost 90 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2038. Plants that can’t meet the new standards must retire.

Currently, natural gas provides the U.S. nearly 40 percent of its electricity, while coal provides about 20 percent, down from about 45 percent in 2010.

If finalized, these rules would mark the first time the federal government has restricted carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This is significant because existing power plants make up about 25 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution.

“By proposing new standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, EPA is delivering on its mission to reduce harmful pollution that threatens people’s health and wellbeing,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a statement.

He continued: “EPA’s proposal relies on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future. Alongside historic investment taking place across America in clean energy manufacturing and deployment, these proposals will help deliver tremendous benefits to the American people—cutting climate pollution and other harmful pollutants, protecting people’s health, and driving American innovation.”

According to the EPA, its proposal would avoid up to 617 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2042—equivalent to reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles, about half of the cars in the U.S. In 2030, the proposed standards would prevent 300,000 asthma attacks, 1,300 annual premature deaths, and more than 800 hospital and emergency room visits.

This proposal is just the latest in a string of major regulations that will—hopefully—advance environmental justice.

—Aarohi Sheth

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