Millions of Americans can hope to breathe cleaner air in the future, now that the a settlement has been reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Valley Authority, ending the dispute over clean air regulations at 11 different T.V.A. coal-fired power plants.
The new settlement will look to reduce emissions caused by the plants, emissions that have damaged the Great Smokey Mountains National Park by causing acid rain. The provisions on the settlement also call for the T.V.A. to spend between $3 billion to $5 billion to install state-of-the-art pollution control systems in three dozen of their power plants, another $350 million on renewable energy projects and energy efficiency, and for them to close 18 of their oldest and dirtiest boilers in Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
According to EPA estimates, the agreement will cause nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions to be cut by 70%, which will prevent 21,000 asthma attacks, 2000 heart attacks, and 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths annually. With the closing of their old coal-fired plants along with the implementation of their energy efficient systems, the company’s emission of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will inevitably be reduced.
Though the T.V.A. has been undeniably important in bringing electricity to some of the poorer areas of the nation, it has also been a major polluter as well.
The authority reached a settlement thirty years ago to cut back on emissions and develop and invest in emission control systems, but further reductions since have been hard to come by, due to favorable court decisions and the lack of initiative from the George W. Bush administration to vigorously enforce the Clean Air Act.
Photo credit: tva.gov/power/images/cumberland.jpg