(Adds administration comment in paragraph four, NRDC comments
in final three paragraphs)
WASHINGTON, March 15 U.S. environmental
regulators will likely delay finalizing rules to limit carbon
emissions from new power plants, a measure that has been one of
President Barack Obama's top strategies to fight climate change,
the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The rules were proposed by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) nearly a year ago. They are expected to be revised
to set a separate standard for coal-fired plants, as opposed to
natural-gas-fired plants, the newspaper said.
The administration had been expected to tackle emissions
from existing power plants, which are responsible for a much
larger volume of U.S. emissions, up to 40 percent, after
finalizing the rules on new plants.
An administration official said the report was not accurate
because the EPA was still working on the rule. The official did
say that sifting through the massive volume of comments was
According to the EPA's regulatory tracker, the so-called
greenhouse gas "New Source Performance Standard" for new power
plants was projected to be finalized by the end of this month.
But EPA Administrator nominee Gina McCarthy, who was in
charge of EPA rules as assistant administrator for the agency's
office for air and radiation, hinted last month that finalizing
the proposal may take extra time since it had received nearly 2
million comments on the rules.
McCarthy will face a Senate confirmation hearing in April,
Capitol Hill sources said, and is expected to get pushback from
lawmakers from states that are heavily reliant on coal.
The EPA proposal says new plants can emit no more than 1,000
pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, a standard that
effectively blocks construction of new coal-fired plants.
David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources
Defense Council's climate and air program, said he has no
evidence that the EPA plans to weaken the current proposal but
warned that a deadline to finalize the rule is less than one
"If they don't meet the deadline, environmental
organizations will start taking the legal steps to get a court
to force the deadline," he said.
He added that the EPA holds regular, informal consultations
with various stakeholders including green groups and electric
utilities to hear proposals for setting an emissions standard
from existing power plants.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by
John Wallace and Dale Hudson)