2:37pm

Mon June 20, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Paper Criticizes Opponents of Clean Air Rules

The New York Times’ editorial yesterday took power giant American Electric Power to task for its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed air standards. AEP has been contradicting itself lately, telling the public that the eventual closing of two dozen power plants will result in major job losses, even while the company tells investors otherwise:

Yet in a June 1 meeting with investors, Michael Morris, the utility’s chairman, who last week warned about the impact of the proposed regulations on “our customers and local economies,” told investors that the closings were “the appropriate way to go” for customers and shareholders.

The NYT editorial board calls AEP’s language about job losses “cynical” and “deceptive.”

Here is what A.E.P. is not saying: These units are, on average, 55 years old. Some are running at only 5 percent of capacity. Many had long been slated for retirement, in part to comply with a 2007 settlement with the George W. Bush administration in which the company agreed to settle violations of the Clean Air Act by spending $4.7 billion to retire or retrofit aging units.

Blaming the rules is a transparent scare tactic designed to weaken the administration’s resolve while playing to industry supporters on Capitol Hill. Fortunately, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which proposed the rules, refuses to be bullied.

The proposed rules would regulate mercury and other air pollutants, as well as also require utilities to reduce the amount of other pollution like sulfur dioxide.  Lisa Jackson has said she intends to make the rules final sometime this year.