New Power Plant Carbon Controls Will Help Fight Climate Change, Restore Local Waters, and Protect Vulnerable Communities

New EPA limits on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from dirty power plants will help our region fight climate change and its effects, reduce excess nitrogen polluting the Bay and its tributaries, and protect people’s health from dangerous air pollution.  

The GHG standards were one of four new rules aimed at cleaning up the power sector that EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced this morning. The carbon emissions standards apply to existing coal-fired power plants and new power plants that burn natural gas.  

Power plants are the second largest source of domestic GHG emissions. Damage caused by climate change impact such as extreme weather, sea level rise, and “sunny day” flooding are already wreaking havoc on the Bay ecosystem and communities across our region. But environmental justice communities, which are more likely to be located in low-lying areas and lack tree cover than other neighborhoods, bear a disproportionately heavy burden.  

Lower carbon emissions limits will also improve air quality by reducing other pollutants power plants emit, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide, and soot. Dirty power plants, like other sources of harmful pollution, are disproportionately sited near environmental justice communities where residents already experience high rates of heart and lung conditions. Reducing emissions of these other pollutants should better protect the health of vulnerable communities. 

Reducing NOx emissions can also help clean up the Bay and its waterways. Roughly one-third of excess nitrogen in our waters comes from the air. Power plants that burn fossil fuels produce half the nitrogen pollution responsible for creating algae blooms that spawn oxygen-deprived dead zones that suffocate underwater grasses, crabs, fish, and other marine life in the Bay and its tributaries.  

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek issued the following statement: 

“The Bay region is ground zero for the destructive effects of climate change. EPA’s new limits on carbon emissions from dirty power plants are a welcome tool in the fight to mitigate climate change and the damage it is already doing to our local communities and the Bay ecosystem. 

“Reducing carbon emissions will also ratchet down emissions of other dangerous pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and soot. Cleaner air is especially important to safeguard the health of people living closest to these harmful polluters. Lower nitrogen emissions can also help restore water quality in the Bay and its tributaries. 

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation commends EPA for taking this important step toward cleaning up the power sector. We urge the agency to move quickly to the next step of tackling air pollution from the country’s many existing gas-fired plants.” 

Lisa Caruso 90x110

Lisa Caruso

Washington, D.C. Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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