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July 12, 2011
EPA Finalizes Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
    by Robert Kropp

The rule covers emissions in 27 states in the eastern US and is expected to save as much as $280 billion a year in health and environmental costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 7 that it has finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (C-SAP), which requires that 27 states in the eastern US reduce power plant emissions that contribute to pollution in other states.

The new rule replaces the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) of 2005, whose mandates, a federal court ruled in 2008, were not sufficient for protecting communities from pollution originating in other states.

EPA estimates that by requiring significant reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions that cross state lines, the rule will result in $120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits in 2014. The savings, EPA asserts, outweigh the estimated annual costs, which are expected to be $800 million in 2014 as well as $1.6 billion per year in capital investments already underway.

However, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an industry lobbying group, disputed EPA's estimates. It argued that the rule, along with a proposed second rule regulating mercury and other air toxins, will lead to the loss of four jobs for every one created, increase electricity rates by over 23%, and $8 billion per year in higher natural gas prices.

In 2009, a lobbying firm hired by ACCCE sent 13 forged letters, purporting to be from the NAACP and several community-based organizations, to three members of the House of Representatives in advance of a vote on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. That same year, Duke Energy and Alstom Power left ACCCE, citing the lobbying group's opposition to climate change legislation as a reason.

According to a recently published white paper by As You Sow, 153 new coal plant proposals have been abandoned during the past five years, as the availability and low cost of natural gas has made the cleaner-burning source more appealing to companies and investors. In 2010, As You Sow found, the coal industry lost 10% of its overall asset value.

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, said of the legislation, "These investments will create nearly 1.5 million jobs—an average of 300,000 jobs each year over the next five years."


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