EPA’s pronouncement that ‘air is getting cleaner’ shows impact of nuclear power plants

WASHINGTON – April 16, 2004 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified areas of the United States that have not attained more stringent air-quality standards established under the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA announced that nearly 2,700 of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties are meeting the agency’s new eight-hour standard for levels of ozone, or smog.

Approximately 100 metropolitan areas, including part or all of 474 counties, are designated as being in “non-attainment” for either failing to meet the eight-hour ozone standard or for causing a downwind county to fail. Nuclear Energy Institute Executive Vice President Angie Howard made this statement

“Notably, in making today’s announcement, EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt emphasizes that, ‘The air is getting cleaner.’ It is not happenstance that the nation’s strides in cleaning the air over the past 20 years coincide with dozens of nuclear power plants coming on-line and producing huge amounts of emission-free electricity.

“The 103 nuclear power plants operating across the country supply three- fourths of the electricity from sources that don’t emit pollutants into the air. Nuclear energy has proven itself to be absolutely vital in helping to meet the nation’s growing electricity needs and helping to clean the air.

“One of the best and most recent pieces of evidence of the clean-air benefits of nuclear energy is the EPA’s own ‘1999-2002 Progress Report’ jointly issued in March 2003 by the Ozone Transport Commission. The report shows that power producers have been shifting electricity production to emission-free nuclear power plants from other sources. A benefit of this change is that more nuclear power helps the electric utility sector comply with federal air pollution laws.

Specifically, in examining how compliance with the ozone standard is being achieved, the report states that ‘significant increases in nuclear generation indicate that fossil fuel generation is more likely to have shifted to the nuclear sector.’ (See http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/otc/otcreport.pdf)

“As air quality standards grow more stringent, the nation’s need for nuclear energy will only continue to grow.”

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at http://www.nei.org.

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