SACE Commends EPA for Strong Mercury Rule

Guest Blog | December 21, 2011 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. (December 21, 2011) – Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a life-saving rule to limit mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. EPA estimates that these new standards will prevent 90 percent of the mercury emitted by coal plants from being released to the air. The Southeast is home to almost 300 coal-burning units that can collectively emit more than 20,000 pounds of mercury into the air in a single year. In terms of positive impact on human health and the environment, this rule represents perhaps the most important clean air announcement since the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990 because it is estimated to prevent more than 100,000 asthma attacks, over 4,000 heart attacks and up to 11,000 premature deaths each year. The rule will also provide $3-$9 in benefits for every $1 spent on compliance and will create 46,000 short-term and 8,000 long-term American jobs. In the Southeast alone it will provide up to $22 billion in benefits. Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy had the following statement in regards to this new rule: “Coal-fired power is one of our dirtiest and highest risk choices for electricity. We are pleased that EPA has taken the necessary steps, although long overdue, to finalize a strong rule limiting mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal plants. The oldest and dirtiest coal plants continue to operate because they have been ‘cheap’ for utilities. However, when you fully account for the health and environmental costs as well as the barrier that these plants create for innovative new technologies like energy efficiency and renewable energy, coal plants are actually extraordinarily expensive for citizens. “This rule gives Southeastern utilities, who have made the choice to heavily rely on coal, an important opportunity to evaluate the economics of their coal fleets. The evidence shows that multiple economic factors, independent of this new EPA rule, are already calling into question running old, inefficient coal plants. The cost of coal is poised to increase even as the cost of alternative fuel decreases. Aging plants are more expensive to maintain and they generate electricity less efficiently. The new mercury rule will drive operators of old coal plants to fully consider all of these economic factors and either clean up or shut the units down. In either case, public health and the environment are winners.” # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the