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KY Environmentalists Cheer EPA Smokestack Pollution Rules

July 15, 2011

BEREA, Ky. - Kentucky is one of 27 states that will have to work with coal-fired power plants to reduce air pollution, as directed recently by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

New rules aimed at reducing smokestack emissions that cause soot and smog will take effect next year - and not a moment too soon, according to Teri Blanton, a Kentuckians for the Commonwealth fellow. Anti-pollution upgrades from coal-fired power plants are long overdue, she says.

"The health of Kentuckians and the surrounding states have been affected by the lack of these industries to upgrade, and take care of problems that they knew that they had, and that would have to be addressed at some time."

The new smokestack-emissions rules are expected to cost utility companies nearly $1 billion a year, the EPA says. Industry officials warn that electricity rates are likely to increase in order for them to comply.

Blanton insists the government and public have subsidized the environmental and public-health failures of coal companies for too long. The EPA, she believes, is finally coming to the rescue.

"We have known for decades that producing energy through coal-fired power plants is disastrous to the health of the people. Everyone lives within 50 miles of a coal-fired power plant, and we're all affected by what comes out of their stacks."

In her view, those who vilify the EPA for stepping up anti-pollution controls are misguided.

"Our emotions toward the EPA should be, 'Thank you for taking steps to protect our health, and the health of our children, and the health of our unborn children by making these changes within the power industry.' "

Blanton believes the EPA could do more, and hopes for future moves to limit air pollution during coal extraction.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY