Power companies reviewing EPA proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90%
Michigan environmental groups are expressing support for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 90 percent.
The EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for coal and new natural gas burning power plants would require capturing the carbon, an idea the power industry has supported, but has not implemented to any great extent.
In a news release, the EPA projects the proposal would avoid up to 617 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution through 2042. The EPA says that’s like reducing the annual emissions for roughly half the cars in the U.S.
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters said the proposal was “…necessary to clean up air, protect public health, and fight the climate crisis.”
The EPA projects there would be fewer premature deaths and fewer asthma attacks because the proposal would also result in cutting tens of thousands of tons of particulate matter as well as other harmful pollutants.
Some environmental groups applaud the proposal, but would like to see stricter emission reductions from so-called peaker plants, which are usually natural gas powered generators which kick on when demand for electricity is high, such as on very hot days.
Michigan’s two largest electric utilities say there are reviewing the EPA’s proposal and both say they’re already actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Through Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan, we are leading Michigan’s clean energy transformation by accelerating retirement of our coal facilities and investing in renewable energy with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electric generation sector,” said Brian Wheeler, media relations manager for Consumers.
He added that the utility is reviewing the details around the rule and comparing it to Consumers’ Michigan Public Service Commission-approved Clean Energy Plan.
“We expect to participate actively in the rulemaking process. We look forward to working with the EPA on this proposed rule to maintain safe, clean, reliable, and affordable energy for our customers,” he concluded in an emailed statement.
DTE Energy stated it will take some time to review the nearly 700-page document. The EPA proposed rule will go through a federal review process that will go into next year.
“At this point we can say, DTE is well on the way to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and ending the use of coal by 2035,” the utility said in a statement.
It submitted what’s called an Integrated Resource Plan to the Michigan Public Service Commission last November. That plan looks at DTE energy generation plans 5, 10 and 20 years out.
The EPA said the new standards mean the agency is working to reduce pollution “that threatens people’s health and wellbeing.”
Administrator Michael Regan added the 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.”