Back in March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to limit hazardous air pollutant emissions from all coal- and oil-fired power plants. A panel discussion on the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule examining its reliability, affordability and impact on health, the economy and job markets was held by Center for American Progress on June 21, 2011...
Back in March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to limit hazardous air pollutant emissions from all coal- and oil-fired power plants. A panel discussion on the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule examining its reliability, affordability and impact on health, the economy and job markets was held by Center for American Progress on June 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. Presenters included:
- Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
- Mindy Lubber , President, Ceres
- W. Thaddeus Miller, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, Calpine
Reliable and Affordable Electricity Continues with the New Rule
Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, believes that with proper planning and preparation in advance there will be no electricity reliability issues by implementing the new rule. Perciasepe mentions that there are tools readily available to deal with any challenges in implementing the rules.
A representative from the power utility industry who embraces the rule, W. Thaddeus Miller, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Calpine, a power generation company, agreed with Perciasepe and pointed out that the power sector has the capacity to make the changes brought by the Air Toxics Rule within two to three years. As Miller stated, “many members of the industry have been investing money since 2000 in anticipation of the Air Toxics Rule…there is yet another 3 years to get ready for it.” Miller also stated that over a ten-year period from 2000 to 2010, the independent power sector built 190 GW of clean natural gas capacity in the system, out of which only 45% is utilized today. There is around 40 to 50% capacity ready to fill the gaps once the Air Toxics Rule is effective.
The New Rule Will Boost Job Market
Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres, a non-profit environmental organization, introduced a report recently released by her organization titled, The New Jobs-Cleaner Air: Employment Effects under Planned Changes to EPA’s Air Pollution Rules. The report states that the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule will stimulate $200 billion in capital improvements in the power sector, resulting in 1.46 million new jobs between 2010 and 2015. Lubber said “there will be a small number of job losses [and] we need to figure out how to compensate, train, retrain and accommodate those [affected].” However, she stressed, “Installing pollution controls and building new capacity creates skilled, high-paying installation, construction and professional jobs as well as manufacturing jobs.”
Reducing Mercury Emissions Improves Public Health
Lubber firmly states, “the Air Toxics Rule is compelling, is important, is doable and will create extraordinary health benefits.” Prenatal and infant exposure to mercury can cause severe developmental disabilities, deafness and blindness. EPA found that the Air Toxics Rule will prevent 11,000 cases of childhood bronchitis and 120,000 cases of asthma attacks. The Center for American Progress released a report titled, Mercury Falling: Many Power Plants Already Have Equipment to Slash Mercury, Toxic Contamination, on the same day as the panel discussion. According to the report, 40% of mercury emissions are created by power plants in the United States and seventeen states have existing mercury emission limits on coal plants, many of which have already installed equipment to reduce mercury emissions.
Mengke Liang, is the Development Intern at the Alliance to Save Energy. The Alliance is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.