(Reuters) – The Obama administration proposed on Tuesday the first rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new U.S. power plants, a move hotly contested by Republicans and industry in an election year. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal would effectively stop the building of most new coal-fired plants in an industry that is transitioning to natural gas. But the rules will not regulate existing power plants, the source of one third of U.S. emissions. The watering down of the proposal led some ardent environmentalists to criticize the rules, but a power company that has taken steps to clean up emissions praised them. While the proposal does not dictate which fuels a plant can burn, it requires any new coal plants to use costly technology to capture and store the emissions underground. Any new coal-fired plants would have to halve carbon dioxide emissions to match those of gas plants. “We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters in a teleconference.
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