Coal Plant Shutdowns: One Small Victory for Environmentalists

The New Republic's Brad Plumer calls attention to a new set of EPA regulations that have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions -- but that may end up doing more to reduce them than any legislation Congress passes this year. The EPA is currently proposing a new set of air pollution regulations that will significantly affect coal plants. While the agency has drafted carbon emissions rules that will go into place in January, these regulations target non-greenhouse gases: sulfur-dioxide, mercury, and nitrogen-dioxide:

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to continually update pollution limits to reflect the latest science. The U.S. District Court, for instance, has ordered the EPA to set new mercury standards by the end of next year. As a result, new rules are now coming down the pike on smog-forming pollutants, on mercury, on coal ash... None of these regulations have anything to do with climate change per se. But according to industry analysts, many coal plants will have to shut down as a result, and that will affect the carbon picture quite significantly.

So what will take the place of the crippled coal plants?

Right now, many power companies are leaning toward cleaner natural gas, which is expected to stay cheap thanks to the recent discovery of vast new shale reserves. But some utilities may lean toward renewable sources like solar or wind--or even invest in efficiency, the cheapest power source of all.

Read the full story at The New Republic.

Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Politics

Just In