Written By: John Shimkus
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has won a major battle in the effort to reduce dangerous emissions from the United States’ aging coal plants. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been forced to close 18 of its aging coal boilers—responsible for some of the dirtiest emissions levels compared to newer coal plants.
The closure was brought about in a lawsuit led by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, citing the TVA’s excessive air pollution.
The closing coal boilers represent 16 percent of TVA’s coal generation capacity. The closures will reduce the release of dangerous emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson claims the closures will prevent thousands of asthma attacks, reduce bronchitis cases and premature deaths.
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The TVA is expected to lose as much as $5 billion over the next decade as a result of the coal boilers closing. The TVA is also responsible for $10 million in fines for violating the Clean Air Act.
In 2008, the ‘Kingston coal fly ash slurry spill’ saw the flooding of 1.1 billion gallons of coal waste onto 300 acres of Tennessee land when containment ponds were breeched. The TVA has been in hot water ever since.
To try and counteract the blow to the TVA’s coal-power portfolio, the company is investing in natural gas power plants and the Watts Bar nuclear reactor is set to come online next year.