U.S. Senator Mark Pryor said he will vote against a measure tomorrow designed to erase clean air rules that protect public health. He has instead teamed up with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to offer a bipartisan, common-sense solution that provides power plants and utilities additional time to retrofit their facilities with pollution control technologies.
Pryor opposes the Resolution of Disapproval, a radical effort to roll-back rules that reduce mercury and other hazardous air pollutants that originate from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The EPA's so-called Utility MACT rules require plants to install control technology that reduces such pollutants by 90 percent by the end of 2015. This step is expected to save up to $90 billion a year in health-care costs, by reducing the number of heart attacks, asthma cases and emergency-room visits associated with exposure to mercury and other deadly toxins.
"This resolution will allow large corporations to pollute at will, showing a blatant disregard for clean air and the health of Arkansans. I cannot support it." Pryor said. "At the same time, the EPA's timetable to retrofit this technology in our 1,400 electricity generating units is unrealistic, especially if we want the equipment to be manufactured and installed by U.S. workers."
Pryor believes we can maintain electricity that is safe for public health and reliable by extending, not ending, the timetable for utilities to comply with the new rules. Along with Senator Lamar Alexander, he plans to send a letter to President Obama requesting that the President use his authority to extend the compliance deadline by 2 additional years, for a total of 6 years. Should the President decline, the duo will introduce legislation to extend the deadline. By extending the deadline, the senators will ensure better grid reliability, allow sufficient time for utilities to comply under a bad economy, keep manufacturing and skilled labor jobs in the United States and reduce costs for consumers.
"Our plan provides a balanced, constructive solution that makes good health and economic sense. I am hopeful that President Obama will agree to a more achievable timeline that improves public health while keeping costs low for consumers and creating jobs in the U.S. If he doesn't, we'll have Plan B ready to go."