Letter to the Editor: Dirty Air Is Not Good for the Economy, People or Earth
Mayoral candidate Andrew Macdonald supports some more stringent regulations for power plants.
Dirty air is not good for the economy, people or the earth.
I’m quite disappointed that Senators Warner and Webb both chose to support efforts to prevent the US Environmental Protection Agency from implementing new regulations that will require power plants with outdated pollution control to reduce the emission of a myriad of toxic air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic and nickel.
The new rules will compel older coal- and oil-fired power plants to lower emissions of 84 different toxic chemicals to levels no higher than those emitted by the cleanest 12 percent of plants. Companies have three years to achieve the standards, and EPA has made clear a fourth year and perhaps even more time is also available to them. Yet the coal industry and some legislators still opposed it.
Coal contains all sorts of heavy metals as a result of its geological formation. When coal is burned inorganic mercury, which is not very toxic, is released into the air. In lakes and other waterways it is converted into the highly toxic methyl mercury, which accumulates in increasing levels in fish and other organisms. The new rules seek to reduce the emission of metals and gases that pose a health risk to human and a biological threat to life on earth. It’s a science-based decision.
President Obama supports these regulations and I think that in this case he is right to do so. What is the long-term economic benefit of delaying the implementation of these rules? None I think. Indeed by pushing the industry forward, now, we stand to gain greater economic benefits sooner by shifting to greener technologies that we clearly need too to compete in the world we live in.
Coal is simply a dirty fuel and there is only so much we can do to clean it up. We are we are not improving our economy, or the health of Americans and our environment by allowing the older coal or oil powered plants to continue to emit these pollutants at these concentrations and rates.
If we don’t protect the biosphere from too much pollution – there is a natural source like volcanoes to be sure – we won’t have a place to live. For those who think Mars is a place to escape to, think again.
The good news is that Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.
Andrew Macdonald is an independent candidate for mayor of Alexandria.