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EPA Won't Require CCS on Existing Power Plants

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The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says it will not require carbon capture and storage systems on existing power plants when it proposes new regulations on carbon dioxide next year.

A West Virginia official says he does not know what the EPA will propose, but based on experience, the EPA will have states develop regulations within a narrow band of options.

According to the website of The Hill, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told people attending the Christian Science Monitor Record Media Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23 that the agency thinks requiring CCS units on existing power plants is not a feasible answer to the question of reducing CO2 emissions from burning coal.

On Sept. 20, the EPA issued proposed regulations restricting the amount of CO2 that can be emitted by new coal-burning plants. People in the utility industry said the standards are so strict that no coal-burning plant could meet them with a system to capture CO2 and store it underground.

McCarthy said Sept. 23 the EPA could allow states to write their own regulations limiting CO2 from existing power plants, but those regulations would require EPA approval.

No new coal-burning power plants have been announced for West Virginia.

"We've been on a number of different conference calls with EPA trying to get an insight on what their standards will be," said John Benedict, director of the Division of Air Quality at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"We really don't have anything in hand to look at to determine how it will affect our existing utility boilers. At this point I don't know if they know."

The EPA is soliciting ideas from interested parties, Benedict said. He added his experience with the EPA has been that when the agency allows states to set certain standards, the EPA does not allow much flexibility.

"Until we see what EPA is proposing, we don't know what flexibility we'll have in implementing those standards," Benedict said.