March 15, 2005


EPA rule will limit power-plant mercury (Beth Daley, March 15, 2005, Boston Globe)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today will set the nation's first limits on emissions of toxic mercury from coal-fired power plants, a long-awaited and controversial set of rules with broad implications for human health and wildlife.

The federal agency is pledging to cut mercury emissions 69 percent below 1999 levels by 2018, according to a copy of the plan obtained by the Boston Globe yesterday. The regulation relies on an approach that allows dirtier power plants to avoid emission cuts by buying credits from cleaner power plants. The Bush administration says it is the best way to reduce mercury pollution without placing limits on individual plants, which the utility industry says would be too expensive and require unproven technologies. [...]

A long-simmering debate over the regulation focuses on whether mercury reductions should come from technology on individual plants, which environmentalists favor, or the trading method the EPA will announce today. In the 182-page document, the EPA says its approach is the ''most cost effective way to achieve the reductions in (mercury) emissions from the power sector."

But environmentalists who have seen the new regulation in nearly final form say it contains an analysis, based on computer modeling, that shows the promised mercury reductions probably will not be reached in the called-for timetable. While the regulation says emissions will be cut 69 percent by 2018, the analysis states that emissions are expected to reach a 50 percent reduction from 1999 levels by 2020.

Does such a projection fifteen years out have any real value?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2005 8:24 AM

OJ: Only when it comes to global warming.

Posted by: John Resnick at March 15, 2005 11:14 AM

Probably not, because environmentalists (and other prognosticators) are so rarely asked about their past predictions. Do you think Beth Daley or anyone else is going to call the Natural Resources Defence Council or National Wildlife Federation 5, 10, or 15 years from now to follow up on this story?

Posted by: Kevin Colwell at March 15, 2005 12:53 PM