EPA Announces Historic Rule to Clean or Shut Coal-Burning Power Plants

EPA Announces Historic Rule to Clean or Shut Coal-Burning Power Plants | NationofChange.

EPA Announces Historic Rule to Clean or Shut Coal-Burning Power Plants

Halimah Abdullah and Renee Schoof
McClatchy / News Report
Published: Thursday 22 December 2011
“Under the Clean Air Act, many other sources of air pollution have been cleaned up, but power plants were so important to the economy that they long had a pass.”
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Un­veil­ing a his­toric rule, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency on Wednes­day an­nounced the first na­tional re­quire­ment for the na­tion’s coal-fired power plants to re­duce emis­sions of mer­cury, ar­senic, cyanide and other toxic pol­lu­tants.

The land­mark rul­ing took more than 20 years for EPA to fin­ish. Under the Clean Air Act, many other sources of air pol­lu­tion have been cleaned up, but power plants were so im­por­tant to the econ­omy that they long had a pass.

About 60 per­cent of the na­tion’s plants, how­ever, al­ready com­ply with the new re­quire­ment be­cause of state rules. The re­main­ing 40 per­cent are a major source of pol­lu­tion, pro­duc­ing more than half the mer­cury emis­sions in the coun­try, the EPA said. The rul­ing will re­quire coal-fired power plants to add pol­lu­tion con­trol equip­ment or close. Many plants al­ready sched­uled to close are 50 years or older.

EPA es­ti­mated that the new re­quire­ment will pre­vent as many as 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart at­tacks and 130,000 cases of child­hood asthma each year.

“This is a great vic­tory for pub­lic health, es­pe­cially for the health of our chil­dren,” EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Lisa Jack­son said in an an­nounce­ment cer­e­mony at Chil­dren’s Na­tional Med­ical Cen­ter.

Mer­cury harms the ner­vous sys­tems of fe­tuses and young chil­dren, re­duc­ing their abil­ity to think and learn as they grow up. Other toxic pol­lu­tants from the plants have been linked to can­cer and other dis­eases. Soot, or par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion, can cause heart and lung dis­eases.

“The dirty, soot-spew­ing coal plant will soon be­come a relic of the past — a dirty in­dus­trial di­nosaur,” said Frank O’Don­nell, pres­i­dent of the watch­dog group Clean Air Watch. “Today’s ac­tion en­sures that the cleanup of coal-fired power plants will be the sig­na­ture clean-air achieve­ment of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

EPA es­ti­mates that it will cost com­pa­nies $9.6 bil­lion to com­ply. It said the health ben­e­fits would out­weigh that by as much as 9 to 1. It also pre­dicted a net gain in jobs — up to 46,000 short-term con­struc­tion jobs and 8,000 long-term jobs in main­te­nance and op­er­a­tion of pol­lu­tion con­trols. (Read Full Article)

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