EPA unveils 'historic' air pollution rules. Can power industry cope?
The EPA says its new rules to drastically reduce toxic air pollution will improve national health at a minimal cost. But the power industry says the rules could hurt the economy.
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“The EPA is out of touch with the hard reality facing American families and businesses," said Steve Miller, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an industry lobbying group, in a statement. "This latest rule will destroy jobs, raise the cost of energy, and could even make electricity less reliable."Skip to next paragraph
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An economic analysis for ACCCE by the National Economic Research Associates found that the new mercury rule – combined with other pending EPA regulations –would chop 183,000 jobs annually from 2012 to 2020 and raise electricity and other energy prices by $170 billion.
ACCCE also contends that proposed EPA air- and water-quality regulations would shutter scores of power plants, making the reliability of the electricity grid a concern.
Other studies, including the EPA's own peer-reviewed analyses, have contradicted these findings.
For instance, an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank that studies policy effects on low- and middle-income workers, suggests the new mercury rule "would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."
Meanwhile, on the issue of grid reliability, a new Associated Press analysis concludes that more than 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states would likely be forced to close because of the MATS rule and another new EPA rule that limits emissions drifting into other states. Another 36 plants are at risk of closing, AP said.
The US Department of Energy says such closures would not be a problem. In an analysis released earlier this month, it found that the new rules "should not create resource-adequacy issues."
Eleven of the top 15 largest coal fleet owners in the US say they are basically in position to meet the EPA’s clean-air rules because of years of investments to upgrade their power plants, according to an industry study by M. J. Bradley & Associates last month.
In the "40-year history of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has never let the lights go out, and it is committed to upholding this record. Our industry is well-positioned to comply with these rules,” Calpine CEO Jack Fusco wrote recently in a rebuttal to a Wall Street Journal editorial warning of grid instability flowing from the rules.
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