A federal appeals court today supported the petition led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against the EPA for its new rule in 2003 allowing power-generating plants to upgrade or modernize up to 20% of the plant’s value without having to install pollution-controlling equipment. The Clean Air Act stands as is, allowing exemptions only for routine maintenance, repair and replacement. The court’s rejection of the EPA’s attempt to be exempt from the controls mandated by the Clean Air Act also rebuffed the Bush Administration. The 2003 rule was part of the advisement from Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force which included top energy company executives. Now the energy[electrical] companies are telling us that being required to adhere to the Clean Air Act will result in higher prices for consumers, more pollution and the decline of the electrical power-generating system as a whole with potential disruptions as a result. Of course that is what they will tell us; they are businesses, not public service systems. Please feel free to have a conversation with me on this, but I disagree and I’ll tell you why. First, the cost: yes, upgrading and installing the pollution controls will cost money but these companies will pass those costs to the consumer so they will not lose money. Second, increased pollution: These plants are restricted to measured standards already established by the EPA. If pollution emissions increase and exceed these standards the plant will have to shut down and make repairs. Third, potential disruptions: the second and third points coincide here because plants cannot shut down, nor can disruptions be major or continuous. These are, again, businesses that produce a consumable product — energy. If the product is not being consumed there will be no income or profit and shareholders will not receive their dividends. This doesn’t consider the potential cost of accident or other litigation that could result from an electrical disruption. Again, money is driving the system. If, however, we let the energy companies drive the dialogue they will continue to use their manipulative scare tactics on the public.
We, the public, the consumers of their product, are dependent on them for our power [electricity] but they are dependent on us for their power [money]. We are codependents which makes this a win-win situation. They install clean air equipment, we help pay for it, they get their money, we get our electricity and we all benefit from better technology and cleaner air. We can do this! I am grateful that this court was wise enough to see that we cannot stay in an energy company-induced “dark age.” Now we can all move into the light together!