EDF: EPA Reaffirms Commitment to Finalizing Clean Air Standards for Power Plants

June 21, 2011


Tony Kreindler, 202-445-8108, tkreindler@edf.org
Mandy Warner, 202-572-3247, awarner@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – June 21, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today reiterated its commitment to finalizing new limits on toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants by November, while extending the public comment period on the new regulations for an additional 30 days.

The rules must be completed by November 16, 2011, under a court-supervised deadline negotiated by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the American Nurses Association, and other organizations. The 30-day extension of the comment period was requested by industry, which already has had 98 days to review the proposed rules.

“The deadline remains unchanged, even with the additional time for comment,” said Mandy Warner, policy specialist at EDF. “At stake are some of the most important protections for Americans yet to be implemented under the 1990 Clean Air Act. These crucial rules have been in the works for decades.”

EPA’s upcoming regulations will put in place new limits on the most toxic pollutants from the power sector, including mercury, arsenic, chromium, and acid gases. Once in place, these clean air standards will annually prevent up to 17,000 early deaths, 11,000 heart attacks, 120,000 asthma attacks, 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits, 4,500 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 5.1 million restricted activity days.

American Electric Power and other companies requesting the extension have been slow to invest in new technology to comply with the rules, but other major utilities say they are well-positioned to meet the new standards, including Constellation, Exelon, Wisconsin Energy, PSEG, Calpine, PPL, and NextEra. Some have urged EPA to stay the course on the rules to protect investments and electric reliability decisions made in anticipation of their finalization.

“Utilities have been on notice for decades that the new air toxics rules will be put in place,” said Warner.” It’s been 7,524 days since the 1990 law was signed by President George H.W. Bush, and 3,836 days since EPA made its determination that the updated standards are necessary.”