Concerns over the growth of the economy have led the GOP to push for longer delays in implementing new EPA rules for toxic power plant emissions. Republicans insist that putting the EPA’s new pollution rules in place would damage economic recovery.
The rules that are in question deal with the EPA’s standards for air toxicity, which are set to control the emissions of mercury and other poisonous substances from power plants, and the MACT standards (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) which regulate toxic emissions from boilers and cement plants. All of these rules are part of the Clean Air Act mandated in 1990.
Supporters of the EPA’s new standards say that the change will create more jobs and prevent many illnesses and deaths.
However, businesses and utilities say that these new standards would be too expensive to implement, possibly leading to plant shutdowns which would cut jobs and threaten economic recovery. The EPA estimates the cost of implementing control systems to be around $11 billion a year, which far outweighs the $140 billion spent in annual health and economic benefits.
Some believe that the country has already waited too long to enact these standard to protect public heath, as changes were enacted in 1990 and were supposed to be completed by 2000, and companies were given four years to comply. As of yet, there have been no changes, and if these standards are continually pushed back, none will be made until at least 2014, nearly 15 years after they were set to be finished.
Photo credit: lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/sabl/2006/Oct/power_plant.jpg