EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the agency’s new rules on mercury emissions from power plants this afternoon, and she is most certainly — to use the parlance of Gov. Steve Beshear — “getting on the backs” of the coal burning industry.
The new EPA rules will cut 90 percent of mercury emissions from power plants by 2016, at last implementing the long-delayed requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act.
The typical suspects — the coal industry and their employees in Congress — have already cried fowl, but not everybody in the utilities industry is:
That view is not universally shared in the power industry. Ralph Izzo, the chief executive of Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent of New Jersey’s largest electric utility, said that his company had spent $1.3 billion to bring his plants into compliance with New Jersey’s air quality rules, which are as stringent as the new federal standard. He said that other utilities had had more than enough notice to clean up their facilities in advance of the federal rule announced on Wednesday.
He said the E.P.A. action was “long overdue.” He noted that the Clean Air Act, under which the new standards are issued, gives enough flexibility to allow all power generators to come into compliance without any threat to the reliability of electric supply.
Yes, not everybody is for sweeping the Clean Air Act under the rug. And then there’s that whole issue of, you know, “public health.”
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, harming the nervous systems of fetuses and young children and causing lifelong developmental problems. Other pollutants covered by the new rule, including dioxin, can cause cancer, premature death, heart disease, and asthma.
When asked for comment on Lisa Jackson’s new EPA rules, this was Gov. Beshear’s response: