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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to slash carbon emissions from power plants. A whole bunch of electric utilities are trying to stop it.

clouds of smoke rise from a smokestack
Credit: Public Domain

Back in May, the EPA proposed a big greenhouse gas emissions-fighting rule. The standards it wants to implement would require nearly all coal and many gas power plants to drastically reduce their carbon emissions by 2038 or shut down

For most of those plants, the only alternative to closure would be installing carbon capture technology. And that’s not an easy ask. Utility-scale carbon capture is still in the early stages of development and remains expensive to develop and operate. 

That dilemma is at the heart of a complaint from the Edison Electric Institute, a top trade group representing power utilities. Last week, the group told the EPA that it should back down from its rule because carbon capture technology isn’t ready for such a big job. And if those utilities had to shut down their fossil fuel plants, they could run the risk of running low on power, the group claimed.

But not every utility is fighting the rules. Joseph Dominguez, the CEO of Maryland-based Constellation Energy, said he’s “disappointed to see many of my peers” opposing the EPA’s “practical measures.” Meanwhile, three other utilities — Florida Power & Light, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric, and Texas’ Entergy — have announced big investments in gas plants that can run on hydrogen, in line with the proposed EPA move.

More clean energy news

💰 Carbon capture’s first big winners: The U.S. Energy Department awarded $600 million each to Louisiana and Texas direct air carbon capture projects, the first recipients of $3.5 billion in federal incentives for the technology. (Associated Press)

🏭 Read more: Carbon capture still hasn’t proven it’s a viable or affordable climate solution, but it’s become a potential lifeline for fossil fuel companies. (Inside Climate News)

⚖️ Kids’ climate victory: Montana youth won their climate lawsuit against the state as a judge affirmed they have a “fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment,” potentially paving the way for similar court challenges. (E&E News)

⚠️ Maui’s utility faces scrutiny: Hawaiian Electric faces scrutiny and lawsuits for not de-energizing power lines as high winds and dry conditions gripped Hawaii in the leadup to the deadly Maui wildfires. (Washington Post, Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

👷 Solving solar’s workforce shortage: A huge demand for solar installation workers is leading many companies to overlook candidates’ criminal backgrounds, but those workers often face tough working conditions and low pay — and some struggle to get hired even after training. (Guardian)

🌎 ‘Practically’ a mistake: Climate advocates expressed outrage after President Biden said in a televised interview that he’s “practically” declared a climate emergency. (Guardian)

🏗️ A climate and housing solution: Turning cities’ underutilized commercial buildings into apartments could help solve a housing shortage while avoiding the emissions created by new construction, an analysis found. (Axios)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.