"Can Coal Plants Afford EPA's New Air-Toxics Rule?"

The first-ever rule to limit toxic mercury in coal-fired powerplant emissions is about to take effect. It will require updating antique equipment -- and part of the utility is fighting that tooth and nail, complaining about how costs will hurt the economy. But where plants have installed the new scrubbing devices, many new jobs have been created.

"LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — America has never had a nationwide limit on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants. That's about to change, though, and it will cost companies such as American Electric Power, which runs the Tanners Creek power station here on the Ohio River, billions of dollars.

Tanners Creek represents one side of a split in the American electric power industry. Some industry lobbies and Republicans in the House of Representatives say the nation can't afford the regulation of toxic air pollution from power plants that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to release in December. And American Electric Power says it needs more time. ...

There's another side to this story, however, and it's well represented by Brandon Shores, one of Constellation Energy's biggest coal-fired plants (almost 1,300 megawatts), just outside Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. Its scrubber has been running since early last year — because it's required by Maryland law. ...

Constellation broke ground to build the scrubber in June 2007 and finished in September 2009. At the peak of construction, 1,385 people worked on it."

Renee Schoof reports for McClatchy Newspapers November 29, 2011.

Source: McClatchy, 11/30/2011