Congress is proving to be inept, at least during this election year, when it comes to passing legislation that would regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Enter the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).The EPA published a draft earlier this month of the Clean Air Transport rule, which would limit the interstate emissions of the greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions.
A total of 31 states in the eastern U.S. and the District of Columbia whose emissions affect downwind states would be subject to the proposed rule. The EPA plans to implement the proposed rule on January 1, 2012, and will hold three hearings by October 1, 2010 when the comment period on the rule ends.
The proposed rule would provide over $120 to $290 billion in yearly health and welfare benefits in 2014, according to the EPA, and would prevent 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths. The annual cost of the rule would be $2.8 billion.
A recently released analysis by M.J. Bradley & Associates for the Analysis Group on the affect of the proposed rule on power plants serves to debunk the claims of opponents. One of the criticisms of the rule is that power plants will retire as a result of the rule, which will overwhelm the power system. The analysis states that the power system can handle the amount of project retirements because the existing capacity is “well in excess of minimum reserve levels.”
The analysis also says that the power industry has a “proven track record of adding new generating capacity and transmission solutions when and where needed and of coordinating effectively to address reliability concerns.”
Another criticism of the rule is that it will be costly for power plants to comply. There are proven technologies, according to the analysis, for controlling nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution which are commercially available. The analysis cites coal power plants as an example. Many U.S. coal plants have already installed the technologies: 65 percent with scrubbers to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, and 50 percent with nitrogen oxide controls.