The federal government is proposing new coal plants only be allowed if they can emit less than 375 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of electricity generated. In the final version, that standard is 420 tonnes. The draft regulations proposed that old coal-fired units would have to meet the targets at 45 years old, which has been moved to 50. The final regulations have been criticized by environmental groups as a major weakening of the initial proposal.
Kent defended the changes, saying the government heard more than 5,000 responses during the consultation, which persuaded him that changes were necessary. ”I think the suggestion that the regulations have been softened or weakened is a misperception,” Kent said. “(The regulations) both significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet 2020 targets and at the same time … make sure we find the balance between responsible regulations and maintaining our still recovering economy.”