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EPA MACT Regulation
WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, issued its final Maximum Available Control Technology, or MACT, regulation. The regulations enforce tough environmental standards designed to reduce air pollutants from coal and oil burning power plants.
“This EPA seems determined to enforce a continued cycle of poverty on Tribal lands.”
said Navajo President Ben Shelly in reaction to the EPA announcement.
"It is ironic that a mere two weeks after President Obama gathered tribal leaders in Washington to discuss ways to bring economic development to tribal lands, the Administration rolls out a regulation that risks increasing energy costs, cutting thousands of good paying jobs at power plants and coal mines, and jeopardizes millions of dollars that would come to tribal treasuries," said President Shelly.
The Environmental Protection Agency developed the regulation as part of a consent decree stemming from an appeal of an earlier decision by the previous Administration to not pursue regulations for power plants under the Clean Air Act.
The regulation set new aggressive emissions targets for mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases. The regulations also set new source performance standards for fossil fuel fired electric utility steam generating units.
The final rule creates a nationwide rule requiring nearly 600 power plants to install new emissions controls to achieve the new air quality standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that complying with the new regulation will cost existing power plants approximately $9.5 billion and require compliance within three years with the possibility of a fourth year and in extreme cases a fifth year.
These new rules have the potential to dramatically affect the three coal fired power plants on and near the Navajo Nation requiring the addition of new technologies that may jeopardize the economic viability of the plants.
If the costs associated with these new regulations prove too high, then the plants will have to close.
This would cost thousands of Navajo jobs at both the power plants and the mines that provide the coal, as well as slash the millions of dollars in revenue that the Navajo general fund receives from the taxes and royalties derived from these activities.
"We as Native peoples understand better than anybody the importance of protecting our land, water, and air. However, to do so at the expense of sustainable economic development makes no sense when our Nation's economy is struggling to stay afloat," Navajo President Shelly said.
The US House of Representatives is planning a series of hearings in 2012 to explore changes either to the rule or to the Clean Air Act itself.
posted December 23, 2011 6:20 am est
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