On July 7, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). This rule will require power plants in 27 states to deliver reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Specifically, this rule and other state and federal mandates will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions 73% from 2005 standards and nitrogen oxide emissions by 54% by 2014.
The EPA believed CSAPR was necessary since states are required to adhere to certain standards under The Clean Air Act, but realizes that the states can only control the pollution within their borders. They determined that certain states, in particular those in the eastern United States, are affected by the air pollution that crosses across state lines and needed this rule to assist in complying with the clean air standards.
The EPA contends that this rule will yield anywhere from $120 to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits in 2014. The EPA believes these benefits far outweigh the $800 million in annual projected costs to adhere to the new rule. Needless to say, environmental groups are pleased with the new rule.
On the other side of the table, energy companies believe that the cost to adapt their power plants to these new standards will ultimately cost the consumer in the long run because electric rates and costs will increase. Many power plants may even shut down because the cost to update their plants may be too expensive and there is a concern that jobs will be lost.
Steve Miller, president and CEO of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, stated “The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause.” He believes that the timeline meet the new standards is aggressive and doesn’t give the industry enough time to react.
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