By ALEXANDER BERGER, Associated PressU.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Friday he will delay the first environmental protection rule that would apply carbon dioxide emissions to power plants and other sectors until the summer of 2021.
The rule, to be released later this year, would prohibit coal-fired power plants from emitting carbon dioxide at any time during the day or night, even if the emissions are being held back by a natural phenomenon.
It would also allow coal-burning plants to capture carbon dioxide for use in their own power plants.
Pruitt said in a statement that the rule is intended to ensure that power plants are complying with carbon pollution limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency and that other industries are not exposed to additional carbon pollution that could threaten their operations.
“In order to accomplish this, I am issuing this final rule at the same time that the U.S.’s coal industry and its coal-powered rivals are also preparing to implement an extensive program of mitigation and adaptation that will provide a level playing field for all industries and all types of power plants,” Pruitt said.
Under the rule, coal-power plants would have to buy carbon offsets from the EPA, which would then be put into their own reserves.
The offsets would have a limit of about 2.2 percent of their capacity and be capped at 1.8 percent of annual average demand.
Under the Obama administration, the EPA set a cap of about 4 percent of power plant capacity.
But Trump’s EPA wants to increase the cap from about 1.7 percent, saying it will be too high to meet the need of the nation’s growing power plants that are now being shut down.
The Trump administration also has proposed capping the amount of carbon dioxide that power companies can release in order to comply with the rule.
Pruitt said Thursday he would take that decision into consideration.
Pruitte said that his decision is consistent with the Obama EPA’s goal of having a rule on emissions by 2030.
Obama, who has said he wants to double the federal government’s carbon dioxide budget, was pushing the EPA to act quickly to get the rule done by the end of this year.
Environmentalists and climate scientists have long called for a nationwide cap on carbon pollution.
The Obama administration sought to require that a state cap be applied to carbon dioxide levels at coal- and oil-fired plants, and to cap the emissions from power plants with natural gas-fired generation.
The new rule would be the first time the EPA has set a carbon dioxide cap.
For more than a decade, the U