Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today joined nine senators of both political parties urging President Obama to use his authority under the Clean Air Act to allow utilities, including TVA, a full six years to comply with a new clean air rule requiring installation of pollution-control equipment on coal-fired power plants.
In a letter to the president, the 11 senators, eight of whom are from the Southeast, said that utilizing the six-year timeline for complying with the rule “will help citizens of our states achieve the health benefits of clean air at the lowest possible cost and with the least possibility of disruption of service.
Under the federal Clean Air Act, utilities have three years to comply with the rule, states may add one extra year, and the president may add two additional years.
Senator Alexander said: “Six years will allow a timeline that is consistent with TVA’s existing agreement to install pollution-control equipment by 2018. The effect of the rule using this timeline, therefore, will mean that other states, whose dirty air blows into Tennessee impairing our health and our ability to attract new jobs, will be required to install the same equipment that TVA already is committed to installing, and on about the same schedule TVA has committed to.”
Senator Corker said, “I strongly support efforts to clean the air and control mercury emissions, but regulations should be implemented in a reasonable timeframe that allows users to plan for infrastructure upgrades over time so they can meet the new requirements without needlessly increasing energy prices.”
Senators Alexander and Corker both announced before last week’s Senate vote on the clean air rule that utilities need more time to comply with the rule. The senators said that if the president does not agree to the full six-year compliance timeline, “we’re prepared to work with other senators to introduce legislation to give the full six years utilities have requested.”
They were joined by Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.).
The text of the letter is below:
Dear President Obama, We are writing to urge that you issue an Executive Order exercising your authority under Clean Air Act section 112(i)(4) to grant an additional two years for all utilities to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) regulation. If states also use their authority to grant one additional year, utilities will have the full six years the Clean Air Act allows to install new pollution control equipment on coal and oil-fired power plants.
Many utilities have said that using the Clean Air Act’s full six-year compliance timeline will make implementation of the rule more reasonable, practical and cost effective. It will allow more time to order and install equipment, to give the required public notice and to apply for necessary permits. It will also minimize the possibility of disruptions in reliable electric service. The certainty of a full six years for implementation will spread out costs and minimize increases on electric rates. It will improve the ability of utilities to develop more realistic implementation schedules to ensure that an adequate supply of pollution control technology is available from manufacturers.
In short, exercising your Presidential authority under the Clean Air Act to provide an additional two years for implementation of this rule will help citizens of our States achieve the health benefits of clean air at the lowest possible cost and with the least possibility of disruption of electric service.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.