WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Monday will unveil a plan to cut earth-warming pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2020, setting in motion one of the most significant actions to address global warming in U.S. history.
The rule, which is expected to be final next year, will set the first-ever national limits on carbon dioxide, the chief gas linked to global warming from the nation's power plants. They are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., accounting for about a third of the annual emissions, and make the U.S. the second largest contributor to global warming on the planet.
The regulation is a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's plans to reduce the pollution linked to global warming, a step that the administration hopes will get other countries to act when negotiations on a new international treaty resume next year.
Environmental Protection Agency data shows that the nation's power plants have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 13 percent since 2005, or about halfway to their goal. But with coal-fired power plants already beleaguered by booming natural gas supplies and other environmental regulations, experts on Sunday said getting there won't be easy. The EPA is expected to offer a range of options to states based on where they get their electricity from and how much carbon dioxide they emit in the process.
Obama has already tackled the emissions from the nation's cars and trucks, announcing rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by doubling fuel economy.
That standard will reduce carbon dioxide by more than 2 billion tons. The power plant proposal will prevent about 650 million tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere, based on the 30 percent figure.
The EPA refused to confirm the details of the proposal Sunday. People familiar with the proposal shared the details on condition of anonymity, since they have not been officially released.
The details were first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.