Tuesday, July 12, 2011

EPA's New Clean Air Rules

A new EPA rule puts 18 aging coal plants on a path to being cleaned up or retired and another EPA rule on haze could affect a total of 300 coal facilities.

The EPA is acting on its Clean Air Act mandate to collaborate with states to reduce haze.

This milestone agreement comes after the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Parks Conservation Association and WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit early in 2011 challenging the EPA's failure to act.

According to a June agreement filed in the US District Court in Colorado, the EPA will be required to oversee plans to curb thousands of tons of air pollution in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming beginning next year.

The goal is to restore visibility under natural conditions by 2064. The haze in question is about much more than the visibility of national landmarks, according to WildEarth Guardians, the 18 plants targeted under the agreement collectively release at least 200,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 150,000 tons of nitrogen oxides and 120 million tons of carbon dioxide..

Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, aren't the only states that will have to reduce emissions that cause haze. The new agreement will demand that close to three dozen more states prepare their own regional haze plans. This may prove to be the first salvo in a nationwide effort to rein in haze-causing pollutants at power plants, pulp mills, refineries and smelters.

Under the Obama administration's tenure, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has transformed CAIR into what is now called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The EPA recently released requirements for that newest standard.

EPA figures put the cost of acting on a nationwide plan to reduce haze in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion annually. But according to the EPA, the health-care savings will total around $8.4 billion a year.

Once the 30-day comment period ends July 15, a federal judge in Colorado is tasked with issuing final approval. The deadline for that agreement is currently being negotiated but details should be announced later this year.

Although it has been a long and slow process, it looks at though efforts to have cleaner skies in America is finally coming to fruition.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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