“We’ve been very clear that we do not advocate for any provision or recommendation, we advocate for the document as a whole,” USCAP spokeswoman Katie Mandes said.
“USCAP felt it was important to include a proposal for emissions standards going forward, that’s why it was included in the blueprint,” Ms. Mandes said.
Mr. Williams said it is not certain that the Cliffside plant would be exempted from the new requirement, because of a question whether a pending legal challenge to the project would affect its permit status.
The provision in the Waxman-Markey bill would effectively ban construction of new coal plants for the next decade by requiring them to install “clean coal” technology that captures and stores carbon emissions to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The climate bill introduced in the previous Congress by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, and energy and air quality subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, Virginia Democrat in October included a similar exemption for coal-fired plants.
Duke Energy donated $11,000 to Mr. Dingell and $10,000 to Mr. Boucher during the 2008 election cycle. Mr. Dingell and Mr. Boucher still held their respective chairmanships at that time.
Duke’s North Carolina project would face major hurdles without the exemption. Although the company could retrofit the plant to capture carbon emissions, it would have to pipe the carbon dioxide out of the state because no good geological storage sites are nearby.
The second Duke Energy coal-powered project under construction, a coal gasification plant in Indiana, also would be exempted by the provision, but would have less trouble retrofitting with “clean coal” technology.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will take up the climate bill again this week in subcommittee. Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey have said they want the full bill to be reported to the House floor by Memorial Day.