Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

National environmental groups the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club are launching a new campaign today that challenges American Electric Power (AEP) to publicly name the number of lives it wants Congress to sacrifice to give AEP and other polluters delays and rollbacks of national limits on toxic air pollution.

While other utilities are investing in technology and jobs to clean up toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants and meet new national pollution standards on time, AEP is promoting on Capitol Hill a sweeping, 56-page bill it drafted to weaken and delay federal clean air standards. AEP lobbyists wrote the bill, dubbed it the Electric Power Regulatory Coordination Act of 2011, and then went looking for lawmakers to sponsor it.

Columbus, Ohio-based AEP is one of the largest emitters of toxic air pollution in the country. In 2008, AEP emitted more mercury, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide pollution than any other American utility. 

If the AEP bill were to become law, in the first two years alone it would permit the release of mercury, acid gases, and arsenic that would contribute to as many as 34,000 deaths, 220,000 asthma attacks, and 1.5 million missed work days – severe health impacts that would be avoided by implementation of EPA’s recently proposed clean air standards for the nation’s most toxic pollutants.

Statements of Environmental Leaders:

“Instead of promoting a big polluters’ bill of rights to delay scientists from issuing updates that protect our health, AEP should be cleaning up its deadly pollution and looking for clean energy alternatives,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Investing in clean energy would not only protect countless American lives but help create jobs and boost the economy.”

 “Today we are asking AEP a simple question: What’s your number? What’s the acceptable number of American lives to surrender?” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. “After twenty years of delay, AEP wants America to wait another six years before we limit toxic mercury from some power plants – and they want to delay limits on a host of other dangerous pollutants.”

“AEP made $1.2 billion in profits last year — while America’s children suffered asthma hospitalizations and mercury-related developmental delays,” said Krupp. “This draft bill represents Washington at its worst: corporate lobbyists writing legislation to block limits on toxic pollution and then shopping around for Members of Congress to sponsor it.  We’ll see who is willing to put their name on it and put their constituents’ health at risk.”

“Corporate polluters like AEP have stooped to a new low in their efforts to keep their profits flowing at the expense of millions of Americans’ health.  AEP wants a license to kill and they need to be stopped, said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

“AEP says that ‘strong environmental performance is essential to fulfilling our corporate social responsibilities,’” added Krupp. “If that’s true, the company should stop trying to sell this dirty air bill, and get back to work.”

Background on Draft AEP Legislation

A HEALTH WRECK FOR AMERICA’S CHILDREN

A 56-page discussion draft circulated on April 29, 2011 (dubbed the “Electric Power Regulatory Coordination Act of 2011”) would halt implementation of the nation’s clean air laws for the nation’s single largest source of air pollution:  fossil fueled power plants. The abstruse legal language set out in the 56 page document would rip apart the fabric of our nation’s clean air laws.   If it became law, the discussion draft would allow harmful air pollution would persist for years longer, imposing a heavy health burden on America’s children: 

While AEP and some other power companies are seeking to erode bedrock clean air protections, other major utilities are supporting  healthier air for America:   

The nation’s largest power companies are financially well positioned to comply with these important health protections.  In 2010, the top ten power companies by generating capacity [MWh] had a combined $28.4 billion in profits and $7.5 billion in cash balances.

*The proposed AEP legislation would delay and weaken new EPA standards to address the most toxic contaminants at power generation facilities nationwide. EPA has estimated that in 2016 the annual particulate matter-related benefits of the proposed rule for adults will “include approximately 6600 to 17,000 fewer premature mortalities, 4,300 fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, 10,000 fewer non-fatal heart attacks, 12,000 fewer hospitalizations (for respiratory and cardiovascular disease combined), 4.9 million fewer days of restricted activity due to respiratory illness and approximately 830,000 fewer lost work days. We also estimate substantial health improvements for children in the form of 110,000 fewer asthma attacks, 6,700 fewer hospital admissions due to asthma, 10,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis, and approximately 210,000 fewer cases of upper and lower respiratory illness.” 76 Fed. Reg. 24,976, 26,090 (May 3, 2011) If AEP has its way and the rules are blocked, all of those projected annual benefits would be lost for at least two years, with ongoing harm in subsequent years as well.