What a lame move.
The Illinois EPA decided to keep the federal government's ridiculous grandfather clause for old coal power plants in place, instead of modernizing our state rules for air quality.
Why? Oh, it would be "irresponsible" for the state to set up better rules than the federal rules. The coal power plants, much of which are now owned by independent companies, might have to charge more if they installed pollution controls, instead of spewing cancer-causing filthy smoke into the air for people to inhale. That's the bottom line.
The report is here.
Well, those coal power plants *should* cost more to operate, because right now they are imposing a real cost on the rest of us. The kids with asthma bear real costs, but the electric companies and ratepayers don't pay for that. They should, to make the price of electricity accurate, and not subsidized by the sick (as they do now). Plus, the more the price of electricity reflects its real and true cost, the more competitive renewable energy like wind and solar become.
What a horrible recommendation by the Illinois EPA.
I hope the General Assembly rejects the findings and passes modern regulations on filthy, old coal power plants.
Waiting for the federal EPA to force these old coal power plants to upgrade is like waiting for the federal Department of Labor to force the worst employers to pay their workers a decent wage. We don't expect that to happen, so the state passes a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, and the state passes our own set of overtime regulations to the Bush overtime take-away doesn't apply here.
(This does show how labor runs the show with Blagojevich far more than liberals do).
The other point from the EPA's report is that Illinois would still face pollution from neighboring states, and that some of the benefit from the cleaner coal would be enjoyed by people in other states downwind of the power plants.
Then those other states can improve their regulations too. Plus, modernizing state rules for air pollution will make it more likely that the feds will improve their regulations. The report calls on the Governor to "demand" the federal EPA pass tighter regulations. Yeah, good luck. If we really want stronger federal regulations, then we should go ahead and implement our own strong state regulations, and create a race to the top instead of a race to the bottom.