"Delay in Coal Pollution Rules Took Toll in Lives"

"A tough new pollution standard for power plants proposed this week by the Environmental Protection Agency will cost utilities at least $10 billion, and several companies have already signaled that they will close aging coal plants rather than upgrade to meet the new standards. The new rules require major reductions in mercury, arsenic and other hazardous emissions.

Yet while industry may howl over the costs, the utilities can hardly be surprised: the pollution controls have been in the works since at least 1990, when President George H.W. Bush — with broad bipartisan support in both houses of Congress — signed into law sweeping amendments to the Clean Air Act requiring the E.P.A. to take aggressive steps to identify and curb major sources of hazardous air pollution, including emissions from power plants.

That it would take more than 20 years for federal regulators to finally propose toxic emissions standards for the power industry is testament to both the slow wheels of bureaucracy and the clout of the nation’s utility and coal interests, which bitterly — and for years, successfully — fought the controls, even as other industries bowed under."

John Collins Rudolf reports for the New York Times' Green blog March18, 2011.

Monday, March 21, 2011