The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a new rule that will require power companies to further reduce greenhouse gases (GHG).
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) will require 27 states in the eastern half of the country to reduce power plant emissions that the EPA says are drifting across state lines and creating health risks in neighboring communities.
By order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the EPA has been working on revising the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) since 2008, which the new rule will replace.
The Agency is wasting little time implementing CSAPR. Beginning January 2012, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emission reductions will take effect. Under the new rule's ozone-season control program starting in May 2012, 26 states will also be required to lower summertime NOx emissions.
The EPA claims the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 54 percent from 2005 levels by 2014. The Agency also claims that the hefty cost, estimated at US$800 million a year, is worth the investment considering the estimated US$120 to US$280 billion in annual heath and environmental benefits CSPAR will create in 2014.
This news comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit filed by a coalition of six states to sue five power companies for greenhouse gas emissions. The justices were spit (4-4) however on questions related to a state's ability to enforce carbon pollution regulations. They noted that the EPA is working towards a final set of pollution standards for power companies in May 2012.
In March, the Agency proposed the country's first-ever mercury and air toxic standards for power plants, which, when implemented, is expected to prevent 91 percent of mercury emissions. The proposal received almost instant push back from the energy industry and its lobbyists -- in particular the coal industry. Opponents say the standard would cause a spike in the cost of electricity.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule announcement received the same response from the coal industry. Just hours after the EPA announced the new rule, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) blasted the EPA sending out a press release entitled "EPA Finalizes Expensive New Regulation".
The non-profit, non partisan coalition claims that the new rule will "increase electricity and destroy U.S. jobs." ACCCE president and CEO Steve Miller accused the Agency of ignoring the disastrous effect these new standards will have on the already struggling American economy. Miller says, “America’s coal-fueled electric industry has been doing its part for the environment and the economy, but our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations. Unfortunately, EPA doesn’t seem to care.”
On the other hand, Fred Krupp president of the Environmental Defense Fund applauded the EPA, saying, “These clean air standards for power plant pollution will provide some of the greatest human health protections in our nation’s history.” He added, “Millions of Americans live downwind from this deadly pollution -- from the communities that live in the shadows of these smokestacks to those afflicted by the pollution that drifts hundreds of miles downwind.
Regardless of the response toward these new rules, one thing seems certain: the EPA and its leader Lisa P. Jackson are beginning to make strong moves toward regulate emissions created by the power industry.
“By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way,” said Jackson.
Image Credit: momentcaptured1 via Flickr
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