EPA Tightens Restrictions on Power Plants

New clean air rules imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency could have a big impact in Texas. As Laurie Johnson reports — the new rule regulates pollution that travels from one state to another.

The Cross-State Air Pollution rule changes the standards for how much pollution power plants can emit.

The rule is primarily targeted at coal-fired power plants in 28 states, including Texas, which will now have to monitor sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says by the year 2014 the rule could prevent as many as 1,700 premature deaths in Texas per year.
"Without this rule, Texas power plants will contribute significantly to air pollution in downwind states, tribes and local communities. In some cases, that would force the consideration of more costly local reductions in those downwind communities. And in all cases, unfairly deprive all families of the health benefits associated with breathing clean air."

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been at odds with the EPA over concerns the stricter rule will cost power plants millions of dollars to comply.

Jackson says the rule will help the Houston-Galveston region in its ongoing effort to attain air quality and ozone standards.

"EPA modeling shows that Texas has an ample range of cost-effective emission reductions options for complying with the requirements of this rule without threatening reliability or the continued operation of coal-burning units, including those that burn lignite from local mining operations. I guess, in short, there's no reason that Texas shouldn't get the benefits of this extraordinary rule."

Texas power plants are among the largest emitters of air pollutants in the nation.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...