In a move to address the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions on public health and their threat to climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed Tuesday carbon pollution standards for newly constructed power plants.
Fossil-fuel-fired power plants are the largest sources of carbon pollution and have long operated without emissions regulations.
"Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a press release.
"We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American-made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids," she said.
The proposed standards, to be enforced through the Clean Air Act, would require plants to limit carbon pollution to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.
The standard is based primarily on natural gas performance, the rule states, since it has become increasingly more available and at lower costs, leading to an industry trend toward new plants powered by natural gas, not coal.