North Carolina Environmental Defense praised clean smokestacks legislation expected to be introduced in both houses of the N.C. General Assembly today, calling the action a major step in the right direction for safeguarding public health and cleaning up the state's outdated power plants.
The bill is based on recommendations in the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Plan, which was released in early March by a coalition of environmental and public health groups. The bill is expected to be introduced in the House by Rep. Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) and in the Senate by Sen. Steven Metcalf (D-Buncombe).
"Senator Metcalf and Representative Nesbitt are leading the fight against dirty air. When this bill becomes law, North Carolina will take a major step toward safeguarding public health and cleaning up the state's outdated power plants," said Michael Shore, Southeast air quality manager for North Carolina Environmental Defense. "Polluted air costs the state about $3.5 billion annually in health care costs, loss of life, agriculture losses and decreased tourism. The state has a unique opportunity to be a leader in cleaning up air pollution, and North Carolina's actions should drive other states to take measures to reduce the dirty air that drifts our way."
The clean smokestacks bill recommends significant year-round reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The bill also calls for studies to evaluate the need to reduce mercury and greenhouse gas emissions. Power plants emit 45% of airborne emissions of NOx , 82% of SO2, and 65% of mercury in North Carolina.