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They Fought the Law

They Fought the Law

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Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman take a closer look at utilities’ lawsuits against the EPA over pollution rules.
Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman take a closer look at utilities’ lawsuits against the EPA over pollution rules.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Center for American Progress on Jun 18, 2012
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1Center or American Progress |  They Fought the Law
 They Fought the Law
Big Utilities Sue the EPA and Lobby the Senateto Stop Public Health Protection
Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman June 2012
wo essenial Environmenal Proecion Agency, or EPA, regulaions o proec chil-dren, seniors, he inrm, and ohers rom air polluion are under atack rom he coalindusry and many uiliies.Las year he EPA issued wo rules ha would reduce smog, acid rain, and airborne oxicchemicals: heCross-Sae Air Polluion uleand heMercury and Air oxics Sandards. On July 6, 2011 , he EPA nalized he Cross-Sae Air Polluion ule o reduce sulurdioxide and nirogen oxide polluion—wo o he main ingrediens in acid rain andsmog—rom power plans in upwind saes ha were polluing downwind saes. Anineracive EPA mapdemonsraes ha polluion doesn’ sop a sae borders.Ten, onDecember 16, 2011 , he EPA nalized he rs sandards o reduce mercury,arsenic, lead, and oher oxic air polluion 21 years aer conrols on such polluion became law.oday more han 130 coal companies, elecric uiliies, rade associaions, oher pollu-ing indusries, and saes are suing he EPA in ederal cour o oblierae, undermine, ordelay hese essenial healh proecion sandards. A parallel eor is underway o block he mercury reducion rule in he Senae, which isscheduled o voe on i his week .
This CAP investigation found that these utilities were responsible for 33,000 pounds of mercury and 6.5 billion pounds of smog and acid rain pollution in 2010 alone.
 
2Center or American Progress |  They Fought the Law
Tis brie akes a closer look a hese uiliies’ lawsuis agains he EPA. Te paperexplains he public healh and economic benes o he rules and uiliy companies’eors o block hem. We also look a how heavily hese companies are spending oconvince lawmakers o block he rules. Te cours and Congress should suppor publichealh proecions and “jus say no” o hese diry eors.
 Two clean air rules will prevent up to 45,000 premature deaths annually
Our reliance on coal o generae elecriciy inics huge, hidden healh coss on Americanamilies and he economy. Tese exernaliies come rom he emissions produced whencoal is burned or power. Te emissions conain known human hazards such as mercury,lead, arsenic, acid gases, sulur dioxide, and nirogen oxides. Exposure o or inhalaion o hese conaminans or he smog or acid rain ha hey orm can cause premaure deahs,ashma atacks, birh deecs, learning disabiliies, and oher serious healh problems.Tose on he receiving end o hese polluans bear he healh and economic coss inseado he companies ha generae he elecriciy. TeNaional esearch Councilesimaes ha“[nonclimae] exernal damages rom sulur dioxide, nirogen oxides, and pariculae matercreaed by burning coal a 406 coal-red power plans … [cos] $62 billion” annually.Forunaely,he Clean Air Ac o 1990gives he Environmenal Proecion Agency he ools o proec Americans rom hese deadly air polluans—namely issuing rulesrequiring polluing companies o reduce hem.TeCross-Sae Air Polluion uleis designed o proec downwind saes rom acidrain and smog polluion rom upwind saes. I requires cus in sulur dioxide and niro-gen oxide polluion—he main ingrediens o acid rain and smog. Tis rule will preven
TABLE 1
Opposed to cleaner air
Breakdown o companies and organization suing EPA overpollution rules
States and state agencies 36Publicly owned private power companies34Privately owned power companies11Municipally owned power plants and cooperatives11Coal companies (miners, trade associations, and coalitions)16Paper/chemical companies, ood processors, manuacturers5Trade associations and political advocacy groups19
Total132
Source: Public Access to Court Electronic Records website
 
3Center or American Progress |  They Fought the Law
up o 34,000 premaure deahs and avoid 858,000 oher healh problems annually,including 400,000 cases o aggravaed ashma. And hese air qualiy improvemens willresul in up o$280 billionin annual ne benes.Te Mercury and Air oxics Sandards would require seep reducions o mercury, lead,arsenic, and oher oxic polluans. Coal-red power plans are he “larges human-causedsource o mercury emissions in he Unied Saes,” according o Senae esimony by Dr. Jerome Paulson o he American Academy o Pediarics. Tese conaminans are linked o birh deecs , brain damage, learning disabiliies, cancer, and oher serious ailmens.Mercury is so oxic ha small amouns ound in sh can pass hrough women ha ea hem,harming heir children.Fory-eigh saeshave issuedsh consumpion advisorieswarning pregnan women, nursing mohers, children, and women o a childbearing age o limi oravoid consumpion o cerain sh species ha are prone o mercury conaminaion.Te EPA predics ha he mercury and air oxics reducions—which don’ ake eecunil 2015, wih a possible exension o 2016—willsave 11,000 lives annually andpreven more han 100,000 ashma and hear atacks yearly. Tese healh improvemens will provide ne economic benes o up o$80 billionannually.On op o hese benes, invesmens in he manuacuring, insallaion, and operaiono polluion-conrol equipmen o clean up hese polluans will creae jobs. An analysisrom heEconomic Policy Insiue , or EPI, ound ha he Mercury and Air oxics ule will have a “posiive ne impac on overall employmen” by creaing 49,500 direc jobs by 2015. EPI concluded ha “by balancing benes o healh agains coss o compli-ance—he oxics rule is a clear win or Americans.

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