EPA's New Pollution Rules Take Down Two Dirty Old Coal Plants


Photo: vxla. Flickr. CC BY

This should serve as an indication of how old and toxic some of our nation's coal-fired power plants are: Just a day after the EPA announced its new proposal for limiting the amount of toxic emissions power plants can spew out, Georgia Power released a statement saying it will be taking two of its plants offline. Just like that. The utility company conducted a cost-benefit analysis, and found that the plants were so dirty, it'd be cheaper to take them off line than to pay to have pollution controls installed. This news should be cheered by anyone concerned with theirs or their children's health. Here's the announcement from Georgia Power:

Georgia Power expects to request approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify two coal-generating units totaling 569 megawatts, the company announced Wednesday ... The decision to decertify the units is based on a need to install environmental controls to meet a variety of existing and expected environmental regulations.

"After an extensive analysis of the cost to comply with environmental regulations, we have determined the continued operation of these units would be uneconomical for our customers," said Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers. "This decision is in keeping with our focus to provide affordable and reliable electricity for our customers."

The rapidity with which this decision was made reflects on just how dirty these plants must have been -- according to the Sierra Club, they came online in 1965 and 1967, and have long been in need of an upgrade in pollution control equipment.

Coal plants pump out toxic chemical emissions that impact hundreds of thousands of Americans annually -- according to the American Lung Association, "particle pollution from power plants is estimated to kill approximately 13,000 people a year." In addition these dirty, mercury-emitting plants give hundreds of thousands asthma and other respiratory illness. If these plants can't operate without putting the American public at risk, they shouldn't be allowed to operate at all.

So this example should help illustrate the importance of the EPA -- thanks to its rules, which are explicitly designed to protect our health, two heavily polluting coal plants will no longer be endangering the American public.

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