Tuesday, July 6, 2010

EPA transport rule targets deep cuts in SO2, NOx

power plant stack

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing regulations to cut air pollution for people living downwind of power plants.

The so-called “transport rule” is expected, by 2014, to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 71 percent over 2005 levels and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 52 percent. 

SO2 and NOx react in the atmosphere to form fine particle pollution and ground-level ozone (smog), which are linked, the EPA says, to thousands of asthma cases and heart attacks, and almost 2 million lost school or work days.

The agency estimates that the regulations will yield more than $120 billion in annual health benefits in 2014, including avoiding an estimated 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.9 million days of missed school or work due to ozone and particle pollution-related symptoms.

The agency puts the expected annual cost of compliance to power plant operators at $2.8 billion in 2014.  

The proposal replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008. The court allowed CAIR to remain in place temporarily while EPA works to finalize the replacement rule proposed today.


EPA will take public comment on the proposal for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register. The agency also will hold public hearings.  Dates and locations for the hearings will be announced shortly.


More information: http://www.epa.gov/airtransport

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