EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said compliance with the standard would cost the industry about $10 billion annually and would result in an increase of $3 or $4 for monthly household electric bills. It could also accelerate coal-burning utilities' use of natural gas. EPA "said the proposed rules, once fully implemented, will prevent 91 percent of mercury in coal from being released into the air," Timothy Garder of World Environment News reports. "Power plants would have four years to meet the standards."
The Times reports, "Roughly half of the nation’s more than 400 coal-burning plants have some form of control technology installed, and about a third of states have set their own standards for mercury emissions. But the proposed rule issued Wednesday is the first national standard and will require all plants to come up to the standard of the cleanest of current plants."
The rules had long been expected, but the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of utilities, called them "an extraordinary threat to the power sector" and questioned Jackson's claim that the technology needed to reduce emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium and other airborne pollutants was readily available and reasonably inexpensive. (Read more)