U.S. EPA carbon rule for existing power plants sent to White House

WASHINGTON, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 3:44pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency's rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing U.S. power plants has arrived at the White House for review, Office of Management and Budget records showed on Tuesday, moving the plan closer to a public unveiling.

The plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's climate change strategy, would set emission standards for the nation's more than 1,000 power plants, most of which burn coal.

"Greenhouse gases pose a threat to the public health and welfare," the EPA said in a summary of its rule. "Electric generating units are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions."

Republicans and coal industry advocates have criticized the rule, warning that it would raise energy costs, cripple the coal sector and place an unreasonable burden on power plants. Legal challenges to the regulation are expected.

Environmentalists view the rule as necessary to address climate change. Power plants account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

After failing to get comprehensive climate change legislation passed by Congress in his first term, Obama has turned to his environmental agency to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution.

Last year, Obama ordered the EPA to issue a draft rule for existing power plants by June and to complete it within a year.

The administration has said states can meet the national emission standards imposed by the rule through their own specific plans. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe. Editing by Ros Krasny and Andre Grenon)

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