Why the EPA Needs to Regulate Power Plant Emissions
Electricity generation is the number one source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Fossil fuel fired power plants account for 67 percent of the county’s sulfur dioxide emissions, 23 percent of its nitrous oxide emissions and 40 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. Clearly, reducing the nation’s GHG emissions means regulating the emissions from power plants. Enter the EPA’s proposed rule to regulate power plants’ GHG emissions.
Ceres is a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups. Given its description, it should come as no surprise that Ceres sent a letter to the EPA last week in support of the proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants. The EPA is under court mandate to issue a final rule by November 16, 2011.
The letter states that the rule “is needed to improve the health of American citizens.” Deploying the rule, according to the letter, will prevent:
- 17,000 premature deaths
- 11,000 heart attacks
- 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
- 12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions
- 850,000 days of work missed due to illness
“Hands down, cleaner air is a worthwhile investment,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres.
Lubber said that deploying the rule will, in addition to improving public health, create “high-paying jobs to retrofit outdated, high-polluting power plants and build cleaner new ones.”
Lubber added, “Electric utilities are prepared to make billions in capital investments to clean up their fleets, but they need regulatory certainty.”
“Damaging pollution from obsolete, inefficient power plants drives up health costs for New Yorkers and damages natural resources that New York businesses rely on,” said Ceres coalition member New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
DiNapoli said that as an investor he has “urged companies that own and operate power plants to clean up their emissions, promote efficiency and develop clean renewable generation.”
“EPA’s proposed rules to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants are an important step in developing a new clean energy economy,” DiNapoli said. ”Retrofitting or replacing outdated, polluting power plants with new cleaner technology will create jobs and new business opportunities. I urge EPA to adopt its regulations without delay.”
Photo: Paul J. Everett