Amy Joi O’Donoghue – Deseret News
As the number of workers who mine coal across the United States continues to dwindle as mines close under the weight of environmental scrutiny, so go the power plants that feed on the coal.
The Carbon Power Plant outside of Helper shut down in April, in large part a casualty of a new mercury emissions standard put out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency three years ago.
Coal-fired power plants are shutting down across the country due to their pollution profile and pressure from lawsuits, while others are transitioning to natural gas because of the fuel’s abundance, its low cost and its cleaner emissions footprint.
Since the implementation of the Clean Air Act in 1970, the EPA has been releasing regulations over time designed to decrease emissions from nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and now with the first mercury standard that proved problematic for older plants, such as the 60-year-old Carbon plant.
Although the rule has since been overturned by the courts — which said the federal agency failed to apply a rigorous cost benefits analysis — the fate of the Carbon plant was already sealed.
With that closure still freshly in view, the EPA came out this August with its most stringent set of regulations in history aimed at existing power plants — President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. (…)