Confrontation on power plant air issues termed ‘hurtful and unnecessary’

Nov. 21, 2003 — The battle over New Source Review for coal-fired power plants has gone far beyond the debate over real issues, according to the McIlvane Co.

This is resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on confrontation and not on reducing pollutants and producing electricity at the lowest cost compatible with environmental needs, the company said.

The McIlvaine Co., in its online Power Plant Knowledge System provides a road map out of this quagmire.

Step number 1 in the program is identifying those principles and goals with which a majority of Americans can agree. McIlvaine has identified 10 such principles and goals which include the value of pollution reduction, but also creation of an environment which encourages investment in electricity generation.

Step number 2 is to develop an approach to achieve these goals which allows debate over real issues but avoids confrontation over unresolvable issues. The present Clear Skies approach is an attempt to address the real issues, but is framed in such a manner as to create a focus on unresolvable issues.

For example, one of the major reasons Clear Skies will not pass in its present form is because of differences over the perceived cost of mercury control. One side argues that the cost will be prohibitive, and the other that the cost will be insignificant. Since neither side can be proven right or wrong until the technologies are implemented, the issue is unresolvable.

Modest changes in the present Clear Skies bill would transform absolute limits at unpredictable cost into predictable reductions at predictable costs. Then the debate could be clearly framed in terms of how much should be spent to reduce pollutants.

Step number 3 is to introduce the several pollutant measurement and pollutant assessment techniques which would allow capping and trading of mercury, fine particulate, and air toxics as well as NOx and SO2. McIlvaine has itemized techniques which are either already available or available with little or no development.

Having taken these three steps, the debate will be meaningful and focused simply on how much should the ratepayers spend to reduce air pollutants.

For more information on the Power Plant Knowledge System click on:

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