SACE in the News: Coal Ash Regulations Likely Delayed Until After 2012 Election

Two recent articles about coal ash featured comments by SACE’s Executive Director, Dr. Stephen Smith. An article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “Environmental groups see politics behind delay of rules on coal ash” brings the unwelcome news that classifying coal ash as hazardous waste will likely not happen until after the 2012 election. Dr. Smith, is quoted as saying, “There is a high degree of frustration among a number of folks within our community.”

This comes on top of news from the AP that TVA continues a $1.2 billion cleanup of the Kingston, TN coal ash spill. The AP piece also cites Smith: “Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said he is concerned that EPA saying the new regulation will not likely be this year means ‘going into an election year and there is a good chance of kicking the can down the road even further.’”

A separate, but related issue is the EPA’s proposed rule on “Air Toxics.” This rule would prevent 91 percent of mercury in coal burned at power plants from being released to the air according to the EPA. SACE volunteer and pediatrician Dr. Yolanda Whyte recently had an op-ed piece supporting the proposed rule published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Dr. Whyte’s piece reads in part:

Dr. Whyte talks about mercury pollution

Dr. Whyte speaks about mercury pollution

“Although some utilities now warn that this proposal may harm the economy, EPA economists estimate that the net benefits of this rule will far outweigh any costs. Setting limits on mercury pollution will require many coal plants to install upgraded pollution controls. Installing these controls will not only prevent mercury pollution, but also other dangerous pollutants. Together, these pollution reductions may save between $42 billion and $130 billion in 2016 by preventing 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits; 11,000 non-fatal heart attacks; 4,500 cases of chronic bronchitis; up to 17,000 premature deaths and provide other health benefits.”

Learn more about the EPA’s proposed “Air Toxics” rule at SACE’s Learn About Page or send EPA an email about the rule during the 60-day public comment period, which ends on July 5th. For an overview of EPA’s coal-related rulemaking you can watch a Webinar presented by SACE Policy Analyst and Research Attorney, Josh Galperin.

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