The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has gone on record as opposed to proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants. In a letter to the EPA, the five members of the PSC called for a withdrawal of proposed rules for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which they said would be particularly harmful to coal-fired power generation.
The NSPS forms part of the carbon pollution standards for new power plants in the US under the Clean Air Act. The rules would limit CO2 emissions from new power plants to 1000 pounds (454 kilograms) per MWh, although existing generators who have been permitted to begin construction in the next year are exempt.
Currently, the EPA has delayed the issuance of draft rules which were first proposed in March 2012 but the PSC wants to see them scrapped altogether.
The EPA believes that new and many existing natural gas combined-cycle power plants (CCPP) would be able to meet the proposed standards but the PSC said that it has concerns that the new rules could harm efforts to improve coal-fired technology.
"Considerable progress has been made to making coal‐fired generation more efficient and cleaner. Incremental progress is important, and a total transformation of coal‐fired technology cannot be achieved overnight," the PSC's letter says. "By establishing standards such as those envisioned by the NSPS, we worry that virtually all investment in further refining coal technologies will evaporate."