US coal- and oil-fired power plants will be forced to reduce their emissions or shut down under a federal regulation released Wednesday. President Obama has announced a set of new standards to reduce mercury, lead and other dangerous pollution from power plants.
Despite the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) attempts to get the authority from Congress to set toxic air pollution standards from power plant smokestacks for decades, about half of the 1,300 coal- and oil-fired units nationwide still lack any regulation.
“This is the most significant clean air and public health achievement in a generation,” says NRDC's John Walk in an interview with PBS.
Why has it taken so long to get here?
PBS interviews Scott Segal from the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council and John Walk from the NRDC:
The rule will become one of the most expensive in EPA's history, estimating to cost about $9.6 billion. To make nice with Republicans, who argue the rule will threaten jobs and electric reliability and raise electricity prices, the administration will allow some an additional fourth year to fully comply. Case-by-case extensions may be granted to address local reliability issues.
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President Barack Obama says the new standards “will promote the transition to a cleaner and more efficient US electric power system,” in the memorandum. Furthermore, the EPA will ensure that the implementation “proceed in a cost-effective manner that ensures electric reliability.”
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson sees the new rule as a “great victory for public health” with benefits that will far outweigh the costs.