A landmark settlement reached last week between the EPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to clean up dozens of coal-fired power plants will mean cleaner air and better health for millions of Americans, according to Environment Iowa, a state-wise advocacy organization.
The agreement was in response to several suits brought against TVA by environmental groups and states for alleged Clean Air Act violations at coal-fired power plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. It requires TVA to invest $3 to $5 billion on pollution-control technologies at their plants, invest $350 million into clean energy projects, and phase out 18 coal-fired power generating units by 2018.
The settlement also requires TVA to reduce smog and acid rain-forming emissions by more than two-thirds through improved controls.
EPA estimates that the resulting reduction in emissions of life-threatening nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution will prevent as many as 3,000 premature deaths annually, as well as 21,000 asthma attacks and 2,000 heart attacks.
The decision comes as some in Congress are pushing to weaken or block EPA’s ability to regulate air pollution from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources.
“This agreement will mean fewer lives cut short by air pollution, and fewer trips to the emergency room for America’s children and elderly citizens,” said Jessica Buchberger, an Environment Iowa field associate, in a statement. “It will also mean less air pollution in the SmokyMountains and other treasured natural areas in the Southeast.”