Final climate rule alters deadlines for power plants

By Jean Chemnick | 04/24/2024 03:47 PM EDT

The regulation is a pillar of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda and will be announced Thursday.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks at the University of Maryland last year.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan will unveil a power sector climate rule at Howard University. Nathan Howard/AP

The power plant carbon rule that EPA is expected to release Thursday could give some units more time to capture their climate pollution. Other aspects of the rule are stricter than what the agency proposed last year.

Four people who participated in briefings Wednesday with EPA officials said coal plants will have two more years to start capturing 90 percent of their climate pollution. The final rule requires carbon capture to be in use by 2032 rather than in 2030, as proposed.

But future gas-fired plants would have less time to prevent their carbon from being released into the atmosphere: They have to install carbon capture systems by 2032 under the final rule, rather than 2035, according to the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe details of the rule before it’s released Thursday.


EPA is no longer using green hydrogen as a benchmark technology for future gas plants. Facilities that broke ground after the proposal came out last year and that will run frequently must capture 90 percent of their emissions, or prevent that amount of pollution some other way, or close.

The final rule, which EPA Administrator Michael Regan will announce Thursday at Howard University, also lowers the threshold for future gas facilities that are considered high-capacity — and thus covered by the rule’s strictest standards. The final regulation would apply to plants that run 40 percent of the time, rather than 50 percent, as proposed.

Environmentalists urged EPA to make that change in their comments on the rule last year.

Meredith Hankins, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told E&E News earlier this month that 40 percent is “much more in line with how we see the gas market operating.”

NRDC and the Clean Air Task Force also asked EPA to require fossil fuels plants that won’t be retrofitted with carbon capture systems to exit the grid by January 2038, instead of January 2040 as proposed. The final rule sets a January 2039 deadline for those plants to retire.