EPA imposes new limits on power plants

Photo by Bill.Roehl, Flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to impose new regulations on many nationwide power plants. These plants were picked because their generated air pollution affects other states downwind. Iowa is among the 27 states containing power plants subject to the new EPA limits. Omaha World-Herald reports that the increased regulations specifically target coal plants:

Critics called it another step by the Obama administration to crack down on coal-fired power plants. The regulation is one of several expected from the EPA that would target pollution from the nation’s 594 coal-fired power plants, which provide nearly half of the country’s electricity — but also a significant share of its pollution.

While the EPA said the regulations will not cause the power to go out, almost everyone agrees that it will help close down some of the oldest, and dirtiest, coal-fired facilities. At the remaining plants, operators would have to use existing pollution controls more frequently, use lower-sulfur coal, or install additional equipment.

It’s argued that the health impacts of air pollution outweigh the costs of complying with the regulations.

The rule, which will start going into effect next year, will cost power plant operators $800 million annually in 2014, according to EPA estimates. That’s in addition to the $1.6 billion spent per year to comply with the Bush rule that was still in effect until the government drafted a new one. The agency said the investments would be far outweighed by the hundreds of billions of dollars in health care savings from cleaner air.

Smog and soot have been linked to various illnesses, including asthma.

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