July 8, 2011

Texas Coal Plants Targeted By EPA

The federal government on Thursday announced the adoption of a new rule that will require Texas coal-fired power plants to cut pollution that worsens air quality in neighboring states.

The announcement, coming from the Obama administration, will likely be met with sharp disapproval from Congressional Texans and some electricity companies in the Lone Star State, which say the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) didn't give the state enough opportunity to explain why it should be exempt from the new regulations.

Texas electrical companies say the new regulation, which would require them to install pollution-control equipment known as scrubbers, could force the closure of many older coal-fired power plants.

Many of those plants, built in the "˜70s, are responsible for close to half of Texas' sulfur dioxide emissions, according to the EPA.

Lisa Jackson, an EPA administrator, said Texas' power plants could have increased pollution levels if its plants were left out of the new rules and regulations. The emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from smokestacks travel downwind and makes it difficult for nearby states to meet air-quality control standards.

Under the new regulation, Texas will need to cut its emissions of sulfur dioxide, a key pollutant affecting asthma sufferers and also causing other respiratory diseases.

"Without this rule, Texas power plants will contribute significantly to air pollution in downwind states, tribes and local communities," Jackson told Dallas News.

"Texas has an ample range of cost-effective emission reduction options for complying with the requirements of this rule without threatening reliability or the continued operation of coal-burning units, including those that burn lignite from local mining operations," she said.

The regulation is certain to bring forth more chaos between the EPA and Republican lawmakers, who complain the agency's regulations are too expensive and are not justified by science. Nearly 30 Texans in Congress wrote the EPA last month to argue the state needed more notice about the regulation because it requires "drastic" pollution cuts.

The new regulation was applauded by environmental groups who say the new rule is long overdue.


On the Net: