ABO advocates for CCR in EPA carbon reduction rulemaking

By Erin Voegele | September 25, 2013

The Algae Biomass Organization has spoken out to encourage the U.S. EPA to include carbon capture and reuse (CCR) as an approved strategy for compliance under its proposed rulemaking to establish carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

On Sept. 20, the EPA released a proposed rule, titled “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emission from New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” The rulemaking replaces a similar proposal that was published last year. 

According to the EPA, the proposal would require new large natural gas-fired turbines to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh), new small natural gas-fired turbines would have to a 1,1000 pound of CO2 per MWh limit. In addition, new coal-fired units would be required to meet a 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh limit, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they chose to average emissions over multiple years. Within the rulemaking, the EPA specifies that new energy generation units that primarily fire biomass would not be subject to the proposed standards.

While the proposed rule addresses the role carbon capture and storage (CCS) could play in meeting prescribed CO2 emissions limits, it does not discuss carbon capture and reuse (CCR) technologies. According to the ABO, technologies developed by the algae industry are making it possible to reuse carbon emissions to manufacture valuable, low-carbon products that can make emissions reduction a revenue generator rather than a waste disposal cost.

“It’s time to turn the lemon of carbon emissions into lemonade,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the ABO in a statement. “By transforming what is currently viewed as waste product into a new revenue stream, we can achieve a rare trifecta – overall emissions reductions, a return on investment, and job growth that comes with a new domestic industry for renewable commodities.”

The ABO sites the Waste Management Hierarchy and Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which state that pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible. According to the ABO, reusing or recycling carbon dioxide into marketable commodities meets this definition.

A 60 day public comment period on the rulemaking will commence once the proposal has been published in the Federal Register.