A settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Valley Authority will resolve alleged Clean Air Act infractions at 11 TVA coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Under the settlement, which includes a $10 million civil penalty, TVA will invest an estimated $3 to 5 billion on new, upgraded “state of the art” pollution controls at the plants. EPA says the controls will prevent about 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attaches each year, which will result in up to $27 billion in annual health benefits. TVA will also invest $350 million on clean energy projects designed to reduce pollution, save energy and “protect public health and the environment,” EPA says.
Once implemented, the pollution controls and other required actions will address 92 percent of TVA’s coal-fired power plant capacity, reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 69 percent and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 67 percent from TVA’s 2008 emissions levels, the agency adds. The settlement will also significantly reduce particulate matter and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
“This agreement will save lives and prevent billions of dollars in health costs. Modernizing these plants and encouraging clean energy innovation means better health protections and greater economic opportunities for the people living near TVA facilities,” says EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Investments in pollution control equipment will keep hundreds of thousands of tons of harmful pollutants out of the air we breathe, and help create green job opportunities that will reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency.”
TVA will also provide $1 million to the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to improve, protect, or rehabilitate forest and park lands affected by emissions from TVA’s plants, including Mammoth Cave National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Out of the $10 million civil penalty, Alabama and Kentucky will receive $500,000 each and Tennessee $1 million.
Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and three environmental organizations, the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation, were involved in developing the settlement.
This is what the EPA is supposed to do, an example of how protecting the environment improves health and reduces health care costs while creating green jobs. That’s a win-win-win, even if it’s still coal we’re talking about.