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EU Parliament Approves Combustion Plant Emissions Limits
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EU Parliament Approves Combustion Plant Emissions Limits


On October 7, European Parliament lawmakers rubber-stamped a European Union directive that will cap emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM) from about 143,000 medium-size combustion plants across the EU's 28-nation bloc. The pollutant caps, which vary according to the size and type of combustion plant and the fuel burned, will be phased in between 2025 and 2030. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, proposed the directive on medium-size combustion plants in December 2013. Currently, air pollutant emissions of these plants are regulated at the national level.

Members of the European Parliament voted 623–70 with 12 abstentions for the directive, which the EU Council has provisionally agreed with, which represents the governments of EU member states. The directive also has been approved by the European Parliament's environment committee, which voted on it in July. Levels of air pollutants, especially nitrogen oxides, have been in the spotlight since the exposure in September of cheating in vehicle emissions tests by German automakers Volkswagen, a scandal that has led EU policy-makers to promise tougher testing of vehicles, in particular of diesel cars that are associated with high nitrogen oxide emissions.

The directive the European Parliament approved would set minimum standards that medium-size combustion plants must meet but leaves EU countries free to set tougher standards. Medium-size combustion plants are those with a thermal input between one megawatt and 50 megawatts. Typically, such plants are used for local heating systems or to provide heat or steam for industrial facilities, hospitals or university campuses. The medium-size combustion plants directive will be finalized when adopted as a formality by EU member state ministers in a forthcoming EU Council meeting. To see the directive on air pollutants from medium combustion plants, go to

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