News / USA

EPA Moves on US Power Plant Emissions Rules

In this July 1972 photo provided by the U.S. National Archives entitled
In this July 1972 photo provided by the U.S. National Archives entitled "Burning Discarded Automobile Batteries," black clouds billow from smokestacks in Houston, Texas (file photo).
Jessica Berman

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to regulate the largest remaining source of uncontrolled toxic air pollution in the United States: coal- and oil-fired power plant emissions. The new rules -- 20 years in the making -- will affect 1300 power plants, half of which lack modern air-pollution controls.

Most power plants affected by the rules were built in the 1970s, before clean-air technologies were developed that capture, or "scrub," smokestack pollutants, notably mercury from burning coal, before they are released into the air.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause severe birth defects and impair cognitive and fine motor skill development in children.

The new EPA rules require the dirtiest power plants to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases by more than 90 percent within the next three-to-four years or be shut down.

Retrofitting old power plants with smokestack "scrubbers" will also significantly reduce the amount of black particulate matter, or soot, released into the air. Soot has been linked to higher rates of asthma and heart disease.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who chose to announce the new regulations at a Washington, D.C. children's hospital, said the new air-pollution limits will protect the health of all Americans.

“When we talk about cutting hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory symptoms, we’re talking about young people who can go outside and be with their friends without the worries that they will be struggling to breathe," she said. "When we talk about reducing mercury levels in our environment, we’re talking about lower amounts of mercury in the fish that Americans eat every day. We’re talking about the fact that coming generations will grow up exposed to lower amounts of toxic pollution in the air they breathe.”

The EPA rules could cost the power industry upwards of $10 billion dollars, and many companies will have to decide whether to comply or shut down their old coal- and oil-powered plants.

Misty Allen is a spokesperson for GenOn (JEN-on) Energy, a company based in Houston, Tex., that operates both natural gas and coal-fired power plants that were built in the 1970s. Allen says her company will be directly affected by the new EPA rule.

“At this stage we are still evaluating the rule and evaluating which technologies are appropriate or whether or not individual units would retire or shut down," she said. "So, that’s still under consideration by the company."

Asked whether consumers will end up paying higher electricity bills because of the EPA rule, Allen has a ready answer.

“As with everything in the market, yes.”

Most environmental groups have praised the EPA ruling. One leading organization, the Union of Concerned Scientists, is hailing the agency's move, saying the benefit to public health in limiting smokestack emissions far outweighs the price tag for the pollution controls. But the group adds that the new pollution controls were long overdue.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More