Proposed Consent Decree Addresses EPA’s Failure to Modernize National Pollution Limits for Gas-Burning Power Plants

June 13, 2023
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718,

(June 13, 2023 - Washington, D.C.) – Today, EPA published notice of a proposed consent decree requiring the agency to review and, if appropriate, revise Clean Air Act standards that protect people and communities from dangerous pollution emitted by new gas-burning power plants. 

The proposed consent decree is in response to a 2022 citizen suit brought by Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club. The lawsuit was designed to enforce EPA’s long overdue obligation under the Clean Air Act to review the adequacy of its new source performance standards for gas plants’ emissions for nitrogen oxides (NOx).

“Gas-burning power plants discharge harmful nitrogen oxides in communities across the country – contaminants that contribute to dangerous particulates and smog,” said EDF Attorney Noha Haggag. “We urge EPA to modernize our nation’s pollution limits on the nitrogen oxides from new gas-burning power plants and provide healthier air for millions of people.”

“For years, EPA has failed to revise its NOx standards for new gas plants, creating a loophole that allows many plant developers to avoid installing the best widely available emission control technology,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Andres Restrepo. “We’re pleased the Biden Administration is continuing to demonstrate their commitment to protecting communities and the environment from harmful pollution. Now, EPA must act quickly to set new and appropriately protective safeguards. Nothing less than our lives are at stake.”

If finalized, the consent decree would require EPA to issue a proposed action by November 2024 and then take final action by November 2025. The proposed decree is now undergoing a 30-day public comment period. 

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must review and, if appropriate, revise its new source performance standards for stationary sources like power plants every 8 years. These national standards provide protections against air pollution from industrial sources including fossil fuel power plants. 

Despite its statutory responsibility, EPA has not updated its NOx standards for new gas plants in over 16 years. The current NOx limits are therefore seriously out of date and do not reflect the best emission limits achievable through the use of available technology. The consent decree enforces these Clean Air Act safeguards to help ensure modern nationwide pollution limits are adopted for new gas-burning power plants.

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund