U.S. EPA Rules that Coal Plants Must Have Controls for CO2

President-Elect Barack Obama may not yet have taken office, but it appears the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking note of the election results earlier this month.

Late last week, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board ruled that EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new and proposed coal-fired power plants. As a result of this decision, all new and proposed coal plants will be required to address their emissions from carbon dioxide, which is a major source of climate change. The Associated Press reported that approximately 100 proposed coal plants may be stalled by the ruling, and oil refinery expansion proposals may be stalled as well.

The decision was the result of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club which built upon a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Massachusetts v. EPA, which held that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club argued that building new coal plants — which emit 30% of U.S. global warming pollution — without controlling their carbon emissions would wipe out all of the other efforts by local and state governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. EPA decision can be found here.

Sierra Club press release can be found here.