U.S oil and gas sector ordered to cut carbon emissions

President Obama has taken executive action aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. fossil-fired power plants. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft of the new regulations, which proposes a 30 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke of the significance of the decision at a press conference earlier this week. "That's like canceling out annual carbon pollution from two thirds of all cars and trucks in America," she remarked. "And if you add up what we'll avoid between now and 2030—it's more than double the carbon pollution from every power plant in America in 2012."

The EPA had hoped to strike a middle ground between environmentalists who are demanding an ambitious reduction and the needs of the industry, whose representatives are calling for flexible regulations and an extended compliance timeline. Carbon emissions have already dropped since 2005, giving the industry a slight advantage.

The EPA estimated that the utilities companies will spend upwards of $8.8 billion each year in order to comply with the new regulations, but the savings in healths services could range from $55 billion and $93 billion by 2030, with reduced asthma attacks and premature deaths.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce disagreed with that figure, arguing that the new rule could cost the economy up to $50 billion a year. "Today's regulations issued by EPA add immense cost and regulatory burdens on America's job creators," claimed Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue.

While it is hard to settle on specific figures, the new regulatory initiative will inevitably have a significant impact on America's energy companies.

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