EPA pressured to omit CCS in next power plant rule

By Jean Chemnick | 06/05/2024 06:56 AM EDT

Environmental justice advocates say carbon capture contributes to pollutants that harm low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

A man pushes a stroller near the AES power plant.

A man pushes a stroller near the AES power plant in Redondo Beach, California, on Sept. 7, 2022. Jae C. Hong/AP

This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Environmental justice advocates want EPA to shun carbon capture and hydrogen in its climate rule for existing natural gas power plants — even if that means leaving some carbon reductions on the table.

EPA plans to finalize a rule early in a prospective second term for President Joe Biden that limits heat-trapping pollution from existing gas generation. In joint comments to EPA’s nonregulatory docket, which will inform the upcoming rulemaking, a coalition of front-line community advocates asked the agency to steer clear of technologies they said would exacerbate pollution in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.


“Neither retrofitting natural gas plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology nor co-firing with hydrogen is an effective ‘best system of emissions reduction’ (BSER); these approaches should not be used in any BSER formulation,” they wrote. “They contribute to harmful co-pollutants, as well as bring myriad health and safety risks from chemical usage, pipeline explosions, and storage leaks, all of which occur against a backdrop of a deficient regulatory environment leaving already overburdened [environmental justice] communities subject to additional burdens and harms.”