Big Coal: Children’s Health Is Too Expensive

 

By December 16 the Environmental Protection Agency will promulgate its final rulerequiring coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and other toxic chemicals. The EPA notes that these safeguards will reduce premature deaths by 17,000 people annually as well as prevent 12,000 hospital visits and 120,000 cases of aggravated asthma. The economic benefits could outweigh the costs by up to $14-to-$1.

Yet a concerted cadre of big dirty utilities and coal companies are doing everything in their power to scuttle or delay these essential safeguards 21 years after the Clean Air Act required them.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, or ACCCE, is a coal industry coalition leading the charge to block the mercury and air toxics reduction rules. These efforts includespending $35 million on misleading television ads. Its members include major utilities such as Southern Company and DTE Energy. Huge coal companies are also major ACCCE supporters, including Arch Coal and Peabody. Other members include railroads that haul coal.

ACCCE is a vocal opponent of the air toxics rule for utilities. They even have a “countdown clock” for the days until the safeguards are issued. Its members are primarily concerned that the air toxics rule “is the most expensive rule the EPA has ever written for coal-fueled power plants.”

But this claim ignores the fact that the 22 ACCCE companies have nearly $18 billion in cash reserves, which should substantially ease their ability to withstand any economic impact of cleanup.

Via the Center for American Progress