News | February 2, 2005

Sensible Multi-Emission Legislation Will Improve Air Quality Faster, More Cost-Effectively Than Current Law

Washington, DC (February 02, 2005) - Sensible multi-emission legislation along the lines of the Clear Skies Act (S. 131) would reduce power plant emissions and improve air quality faster, with greater environmental certainty, and more cost-effectively than continued regulation under current law, the Edison Electric Institute said today.

In a statement submitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, EEI noted that, as of 2002, the U.S. electric power sector has reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 40 percent and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by one-third, despite enormous increases in electricity use and economic growth. In addition, controls to reduce SO2, NOx and particulate matter currently are reducing mercury emissions by about 40 percent.

"Sensible multi-emission legislation would require the electric power industry to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx and mercury by an additional 70 percent from 2002 levels, yielding the largest single capital investment in air pollution controls in the nation's history," said EEI President Tom Kuhn.

In addition, whereas the precise requirements of new EPA regulations likely would not be known for several years, legislation would establish mandatory emissions requirements immediately, allowing power companies to start implementing new requirements sooner than under continued piecemeal regulation.

Under the current system, coal-based electric generators face emission control requirements that are duplicative, contradictory, costly and complex, creating enormous uncertainty for future investment. The net result of the current regulatory system is a planning nightmare that makes it virtually impossible for electric generators to clearly understand what requirements will be in place for their plants at any point in the future. In addition, long construction cycles and large capital expenditures prohibit companies from accurately assessing which plants should be retrofitted with controls, which plants should be switched to different coals or to natural gas, which plants should be retired, and when any of this should occur. The result is a system that threatens the reliability and affordability of our nation's electric supply.

This regulatory morass also puts more pressure on the natural gas supply and delivery systems that already are yielding gas prices of great concern to the nation's residential, commercial and industrial users, as well as electric customers.

"Sensible multi-emission legislation is the best way to speed air quality improvements, while maintaining a diverse mix of fuels for generating electricity and keeping costs low for consumers," Kuhn said. "No one expects enacting multi-emission legislation to be easy, but it far and away offers the best blueprint for achieving cleaner air. We commend Chairmen James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) for their leadership, and other members of the committee for their serious consideration of this critical issue."

Source: EEI