WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday unveiled what new large industrial plants will have to do to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions starting in January.
The guidelines will let industry choose the most cost-effective technology to reduce emissions on a case-by-case basis. The use of appropriate technology will make them eligible for new permits for greenhouse gas emissions that will be required for new and expanded industrial plants.
The EPA's steps are much more modest than the big stick of regulation that both opponents and supporters of climate legislation used to talk about. The agency said that much of the greenhouse gas reductions under the permit system would come through energy efficiency.
The new guidelines are part of the EPA's early efforts to start reducing the emissions of gases that build up in the atmosphere and trap heat. The Supreme Court ruled that the agency has the authority to regulate this form of pollution under the Clean Air Act.
The guidelines require that regulators make sure that new plants — or those that are upgraded so that they can expand production — use available technology to reduce carbon pollution. Businesses can choose the most feasible and cost-effective approach.
The plan doesn't put a limit on emissions or require plants to reduce them by a certain year. A bill to do just that passed the House of Representatives but failed to get support in the Senate. The EPA could require mandatory emissions reductions under other parts of the Clean Air Act but hasn't announced plans to do so.