Leaders vs. followers– Coal-burning utilities have technology, resources and ability to reduce toxic pollution

Today the Center for American Progress released a report “Mercury Falling: Many Power Plants Already Have Equipment to Slash Mercury, Toxic Contamination” and held an event with a panel to discuss the findings. Panelists included representatives from government, utilities, and investment groups.

The report debunks industry claims that the regulations will wreak havoc on the utility sector.

image courtesy lex18.com

The technology to comply with the new regulations is readily available, and  60% of US power plants have already installed the technology necessary to comply with the rules.

Though a few coal-heavy utilities have asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push back the deadline, claiming that the rules do not give them enough time to install all the required pollution controls, the EPA representative said it would not make sense to delay the rules across the board for those utilities who failed to heed notice that these pollution reductions would soon be required.

As the utility representative noted, there are leaders and followers among utilities. He echoed that the EPA should not delay important health benefits for those few utilities that were not proactive in updating pollution controls.

After all, installing technology to make sure power plants operate more safely is part of the evolution of a plant, just like getting your grandmother’s thirty-year-old car inspected and fixed is part of owning and operating a car.

In this case, the stakes are much higher than having a noisy muffler. The EPA found that the proposed pollution reductions will have annual benefits that include:

… [up to] 17,000 fewer premature mortalities, 4,300 fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, 10,000 fewer non-fatal heart attacks, 12,000 fewer hospitalizations (for respiratory and cardiovascular disease combined), 4.9 million fewer days of restricted activity due to respiratory illness and approximately 830,000 fewer lost work days.

We also estimate substantial health improvements for children in the form of 110,000 fewer asthma attacks, 6,700 fewer hospital admissions due to asthma, 10,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis, and approximately 210,000 fewer cases of upper and lower respiratory illness.[2]

When 17,000 lives can be saved each year by reducing the amount of mercury, arsenic, and toxic air pollution spewing out of power plants, there is no excuse to continue with business as usual. As one panelist  said “the health of our families can no longer be a hotbed partisan issue.I couldn’t agree more.

Take action here and tell the EPA that you want the strongest protections possible against dangerous air.