The Obama administration’s proposed rule to control greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants — the first ever — could go far toward closing out the era of old-fashioned coal-burning power generation.

Green_Globe_with_VineThe draft rule, recently unveiled by Lisa P. Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, would limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants to 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour.

Recently built power plants fired by natural gas already easily meet the new standards, so the rule presents little obstacle for new gas plants. But coal-fired plants face a far greater challenge, since no easily accessible technology can bring their emissions under the limit. Coal-fired plants are a major source of emissions associated with global warming. The new rules do not apply to existing plants.

The declining price of natural gas has made it the fuel of choice in recent years for companies planning new plants. The E.P.A.’s move follows a shift that is already unfolding in the electric power market.

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Source: Felicity Barringer | The New York Times