Citing health benefits of reduced air pollution, the EPA on
Monday proposed requiring power plants in the central and eastern US
to dramatically curb emissions by 2014.
The Environmental Protection Agency moved Tuesday to dramatically
curb power plant emissions across the central US and East Coast, a
step the federal agency says will significantly reduce health and
pollution impacts across that 31-state region.
Responding to a 2008 court ruling, the EPA proposed sharp cuts in
emissions from some 900 coal-, natural gas-, and oil-burning power
plants - a 52 percent reduction in nitrous oxide (NOX) and 71
percent cut in sulfur dioxide (SOX) by 2014.
The EPA move is intended to bring the federal government into
compliance with a decision by the US Court of Appeals in Washington,
D.C., that overturned the Bush administration's national Clean Air
Interstate Rule (CAIR). The court found that rule failed to
substantially maintain air-quality standards among states or meet
statutory deadlines - and it ordered the EPA to come up with a new
Tuesday's proposal - which is expected to be challenged in court -
is aimed at enabling "downwind" states to develop air-pollution
reduction plans based on knowing in advance how much pollution would
be drifting across their borders from "upwind" states. The so-
called "transport rule" would mean much tighter federal requirements
for SOX and NOX emissions reductions for upwind states.
"This rule is designed to cut pollution that spreads hundreds of
miles and has enormous negative impacts on millions of Americans,"
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "We're working
to limit pollution at its source, rather than waiting for it to move
across the country. The reductions we're proposing will save
billions in health costs, help increase American educational and
economic productivity, and - most importantly - save lives."
Curbing power plant emissions can have a large economic impact,
with the cost to health and the environment from eastern power
plants today exceeding $200 billion annually, according to the
Environmental Defense Fund.
The EPA says its action will save an estimated $120 billion in
health benefits annually by 2014, including avoiding up to 36,000
premature deaths and 1.9 million days of missed work or school due
to ground-level ozone and particle pollution, the agency estimates.
Such benefits would far outweigh the annual cost of compliance with
the proposed rule, which the agency puts at $2.8 billion in 2014.
"This will be one of the most significant steps EPA can take to
clean up the air and improve public health," Frank O'Donnell,
president of Clean Air Watch, said in a statement. …