published Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Cleaner air on the horizon

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule requiring non-complying electric utilities in more than two dozen eastern states to sharply curb their enormous emissions of the two most harmful pollutants spewed by dirty coal-fire plants by 2012 is welcome and long overdue. Millions of tons of the target pollutants, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, would be scrubbed and kept from release to the air under the rule. As a result, air quality and respiratory health would improve dramatically for some 240 million Americans who are now harmed by the vast, wind-transported pollution from dirty coal-fired plants.

Cleaner air resulting from the rule, the EPA calculates, would prevent approximately 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks and hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic pulmonary obstruction and forms of bronchitis. The agency estimates the value of health and other environmental benefits would range from $120 billion to $280 billion by 2014.

The ruling should not be as much of a financial factor for TVA and a group of other power producers that previously would have been effected by the mandate, but have since moved to meet the standard. TVA’s board, for example, was recently persuaded by CEO Tom Kilgore to finally adopt a plan to shut down its dirtiest old coal-fired units and to install, at last, smoke-stack scrubbers and catalytic converter technologies on the non-complying plants that it intends to keep using.

Some other dirty eastern utilities, however, immediately criticized the rule as attempting to accomplish too much, too soon. Their response is blatant propaganda and entirely self-serving.

In fact, the EPA’s latest rule is actually a long-delayed response to the 1977 amendments of the 1970 Clean Air Act. The 1970 act ordered new power plants to use the best available technology to reduce the enormous emissions that produced health-damaging, plant-killing smog, ground-level ozone and acid rain and fog, especially in the 27 eastern states with the oldest, dirtiest coal-burning plants. But the act also grandfathered in the existing dirty plants on the theory that they would eventually be replaced as their boilers and furnaces wore out.

A few years later, Congress realized it had been duped by electric utilities, which could continually overhaul their dirty plants without meeting Clean Air Act rules. The 1977 amendment sought to close that loophole with a “new source review” rule for overhauled plants. But it didn’t issue regulations to implement that standard until the 1990s. Then the electric industry fought the new-source review rules until George W. Bush took office. He immediately obliged their lobby by arbitrarily substituting a weak, movable 2018 deadline in place of the 1977 amendments.

In short, the dirtiest sector of the electric utility industry has deliberately stalled on meeting clean air rules for 35 years. Even now, only its reprobate members complain about meeting clean air rules, never mind the impact cost of the pollution shifted to the general public downwind of their smokestacks.

Most power companies, like those that joined the Clean Energy Group, have long since complied with the law. Americans across the eastern seaboard, however, have continued to suffer the health and crop-damaging consequences of wind-transported pollution from dirty utilities in Ohio Valley and Southern states.

The new EPA rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, should finally force an end to the pollution emitted by the utilities that have long flouted the Clean Air Act and disregarded the vast consequences to public and environmental health. It can’t take effect too soon.

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SeaMonkey said...

what a load of leftist gobbledygoo...leftists use the epa as a weapon....

these rules, based on bogus science, will cost thousands of jobs and bankrupt companies. obama said he would see this through while he campaigned...he said electric rates would go up and companies would go bankrupt, meaning many, many jobs lost. even though the the unemployment rate is huge...he doesn't care. he'll see it through.

what a cold, nasty statist.....a pure thug.

obama, like most leftist scum, couldn't care less who gets trampled in route to seeing his leftist vision come's not about the environment, it's not about compassion and it's not about doing the "right thing"'s purely about control...nothing more.

you can't ram "green energy" down everyone's throats when it doesn't exist. what a load of crap.

July 14, 2011 at 6:40 a.m.
Leaf said...

To SeaMonkey, all science is bogus. He hates what he does not understand. And everything else, too.

July 14, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Without clean air rules Chattanooga air was so filthy that soot spotted your clothes as you walked the streets. We may not like to be told what to do, but we certainly have proved that without rules we will foul our own nest.

July 14, 2011 at 11:20 a.m.
hambone said...

You are now entering the L4F zone.

Set your clocks back 75 YEARS!

July 14, 2011 at 4:47 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Only after Chattanooga was rated the dirtiest air in the country did we enact and enforce air standards. It took rules, not the benevolence of industry.

Government has a place in setting boundries, though we may disagree on where those boundries should be set.

July 14, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.
nucanuck said...


I'm saying that without regulation, we have proven that we will not behave in a responsible manner. Whether it's the EPA or the XYZ, somebody has to set guidelines.

The distance between libertarianism and a failed state is not all that far.

July 15, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.
Leaf said...

There must be regulations, otherwise companies will always sink to the cheapest method out of necessity and competition. I would not go back to the early days of the industrial revolution, when workers and citizens died in droves from black lung and other maladies of the age.

Personally, I would gladly pay more for electricity if it meant better health. After all - time is money, but money can't buy time.

July 15, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Our praise to Mayor Ron Littlefield, for his efforts to clean up the local air by putting Police Officers on electric tricycles downtown.

Looking like an up-armored SegWay, these stand-up electric tricycles have the speed and mobility of a souped-up HoverRound.

Complete with windshield, Dalek-style science-fiction-convention front end, and scooter-like throttles and controls, these speed demons are capable of transporting officers in full protective gear at speeds above "elderly person stroll" but below "in-shape jogger."

Range appears to be limited by the strength of the last battery charge and the rotundity of the bicycle-helmeted pilot.

Preliminary tests show that it can transport police to the vicinity of the North Shore SubWay Sandwich franchise.

There do not appear to be any on-board cupholders.

The tricycles do have distinct "Police" markings, but we have not yet seen any flashing blue lights or heard any sirens from them, as they seem to have not yet been used "in hot pursuit."

The slick and angled appearance of the front end mixes all the tactical styling of a riot control shield with the thunderous horsepower evoked by the front fairing of a Vespa.

We're sure officers can't wait to use them. Nothing says, "Pride in community policing," quite like an electric tricycle.

Obviously, they were purchased with the fuel savings created by the new Police Department parking lot of fiscal wisdom.

It's not often that the Littlefield administration has managed to do good while short-changing Police equipment and support. In this case, Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration has led Republicans in support of the EPA's Clean Air Initiatives.

Thank you, Mayor Littlefield, for your support of the EPA.

Now, if you could just please get real about policing and transportation, that'd be great.

July 15, 2011 at 10:08 p.m.
rolando said...

Very well written, 328K. A laugh in every paragraph...except the last. Are you a Brit, by chance?

July 16, 2011 at 9:41 p.m.
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