Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
December 21, 2011
Today’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of final standards for reducing mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants is an important step in protecting public health. A very long time in coming, these regulations trace back to the 1990 Clean Air Act and were first proposed by the George W. Bush Administration. Like most measures to protect the environment, this rule has costs – estimated at nearly $10 billion a year. But these investments will pay important dividends by reducing health costs by $37-90 billion in 2016 alone. EPA has taken steps to allow time to install new controls and to ensure energy reliability, but implementation will have to be carefully monitored to ensure that any bottlenecks are addressed in a timely manner.
In addition to the health benefits, the new standards may yield significant climate benefits if power companies meet them by replacing old, inefficient plants with cleaner technologies. This is more likely if EPA moves forward with carbon dioxide emission standards for power plants, and if Congress continues to fund R&D and deployment for renewable energy, nuclear power, and technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146