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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs