11 March 2005 – The US Environmental Protection Agency has passed a rule that will dramatically reduce the air pollution that moves across the boundaries in 28 eastern states.
The Clean Air Interstate Rule will permanently cap emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. By 2015 sulphur dioxide emissions in the eastern states and the District of Colombia will be cut by over 70 per cent and nitrogen oxide emissions by over 60 per cent from 2003 levels.
The ruling comes after the US government’s Clear Skies initiative was defeated in the Senate Environment Committee earlier in the week. Those who argued against it claimed that it would weaken existing clean air laws, however many feel that a national law is required as the EPA can not force Western states to adhere to the Interstate Rule.
“We do think there is a benefit to having a national program,” said Jeff Holmstead, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, “but our authority only extends to where we can show that pollution travels from one state to another. We can’t show that anywhere in the West.”
Next week, the environmental agency is expected to issue the first ever requirement for coal fired power plants to control mercury emissions.
All this comes at a time when power plants around the US are investing in emissions control technologies. Following announcements earlier in the week that Alliant Energy has contracted Mitsui Babcock to supply emission reduction technologies at its Colombia 2 plant and that Dynegy plans to spend $545m on emission control projects, American Electric Power has also unveiled a similar project.
With a contract awarded to Riley Power, American Electric Power’s coal fired plant near Moundsville, West Virginia is to receive two Selective Catalytic Reduction systems for Units 1 and 2, which will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90 per cent.
In a further emissions control development, the US Department of Energy has just announced plans for a project that may help coal fired plants meet current and proposed nitrogen oxide control regulations in a cost effective manner. The advanced NOx Emissions Control Programme will develop technologies capable of controlling NOx emissions to a level at or below 0.15 lbs/million Btu.