Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fighting back: new studies note job creation from pollution cleanup; UTILITY EXECS back EPA cleanup

few activities today with a common theme: that EPA cleanup of air pollution from big emission sources is not only good for health and the environment, but also for jobs and the economy.

As always, please let us know if we can help.

--Frank O’Donnell

Clean Air Watch



You will recall that just yesterday, the US EPA asked a federal court for a LONG delay before setting final toxic pollution standards for industrial and other boilers. The LONG delay gave rise to some perception that political pressure from Congress was a factor. (You may recall, that theme was first reported last August in The Washington Post after more than 100 members of Congress expressed concern about the standards, and “White House aides” were cited in response as seeking to undercut EPA and look for a “compromise.” )

EPA has been under fierce attack by industries, including the Council of Industrial Boiler Operators, which made dire predictions about the now-in-Limbo proposal.

Not so soon.

In a report out today, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies takes a critical look at the CIBO analysis and finds it uses “beyond worst case” assumptions and neglects the positive economic benefits associated with the cleanup.

For example, it notes that the proposed cleanup would create 40,000 new engineering and construction jobs in the near term as well as thousands of jobs to operate and maintain the new equipment!

Here is a link to the new report:

Let’s hope the EPA takes a close look at this analysis as it moves forward and does not succumb to the job-killing political pressure from cleanup opponents.


In a related issue of job-killing pollution, several groups in Pennsylvania (including our good friends at the Clean Air Council) today are releasing a truly fascinating study on the “hidden costs” of pollution to downwind neighbors and employers. Here is a link:

This study specifically examines EPA’s proposed “transport rule” which is designed to reduce power plant pollution that crosses state lines. This report notes that areas downwind of dirty coal-fired power plants face not only public health damage but severe economic harm from the ongoing pollution.

The report recalls that EPA focused on the positive health impacts of the proposal which “would save many billions in annual health and welfare benefits and avoid thousands of premature deaths each year.”

The report goes on the note that “even these staggering numbers substantially understate the adverse regional impacts of interstate pollution transfer as they fail to consider the resulting economic inequities and losses suffered by downwind states, in particular higher labor and health insurance costs, lost jobs, lost state and local tax revenue, and higher gasoline prices.”

I urge you to read this report yourself, but note these stats:

• As a result of uncontrolled pollution in downwind regions, between 2005 and 2012:

o Businesses will suffer over $47 billion in costs;

o Over 360,000 jobs will be lost;

o State and local governments will lose almost $9.3 billion in tax revenue;


o Families and businesses in polluted areas will pay $26.0 billion more for

reformulated gasoline as a result of ongoing pollution.


Finally, some major power companies are rallying to EPA’s defense today in a letter to the editor published in The Wall Street Journal, re-printed below.

The letter, from the bosses of PG&E, Calpine, NextERA Energy, PSEG, National Grid, Exelon, Constellation Energy and Austin Energy, takes issue not only with the Journal but with the doomsday denizens of the coal-fired power industry, who have asserted that upcoming EPA cleanup rules would threaten electric power reliability.

Note the power execs:

Our companies' experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

That’s right: cleaning up the air not only improves our health, but creates jobs. President Obama, are you paying attention? **

Here is the letter:

We're OK With the EPA's New Air-Quality Regulations
Your editorial "The EPA Permitorium" (Nov. 22) mischaracterizes the EPA's air-quality regulations. These are required under the Clean Air Act, which a bipartisan Congress and a Republican president amended in 1990, and many are in response to court orders requiring the EPA to fix regulations that courts ruled invalid.

The electric sector has known that these rules were coming. Many companies, including ours, have already invested in modern air-pollution control technologies and cleaner and more efficient power plants. For over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions, including mercury and acid gases. The EPA is now under a court deadline to finalize that rule before the end of 2011 because of the previous delays.

To suggest that plants are retiring because of the EPA's regulations fails to recognize that lower power prices and depressed demand are the primary retirement drivers. The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue.

Contrary to the claims that the EPA's agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies' experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

The time to make greater use of existing modern units and to further modernize our nation's generating fleet is now. Our companies are committed to ensuring the EPA develops and implements the regulations consistent with the act's requirements.

Peter Darbee, chairman,president and CEO,PG&E Corp.; Jack Fusco, president and CEO, Calpine Corp.; Lewis Hay, chairman and CEO, NextEra Energy, Inc.; Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc.; Thomas King, president, National Grid USA,; John Rowe, chairman and CEO, Exelon Corp.; Mayo Shattuck, chairman, president and CEO, Constellation Energy Group; Larry Weis, general manager, Austin Energy


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