Press Release

Gillibrand Pushes Bipartisan Legislation To Cut Mercury Emissions 90 Percent From Coal-Fired Power Plants, Limit Other Emissions

Feb 19, 2010

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, helped introduce The Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 last week. This legislation would cut mercury emissions by 90 percent from coal-fired power plants and tighten national limits on emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). According to the American Lung Association, 186 million Americans live in areas where air pollution endangers lives. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

“Future generations depend on us taking aggressive steps to reduce mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide,” Senator Gillibrand said. “For New Yorkers, this legislation will help reduce air pollution in our communities, decrease acid rain devastating natural treasures like the Adirondacks, and begin to address the serious health concerns such as ever-increasing asthma rates for our children. Stopping global climate change only gets harder and more costly with every passing day, and I committed to passage of strong, comprehensive climate and energy legislation as soon as possible.”

We commend Senator Gillibrand for co-sponsoring this bill in an effort to help the Adirondack Park recover from decades of acid rain damage,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “It is vital for the survival of the Adirondack environment and economy that this bill pass as soon as possible.  We are very pleased Senator Gillibrand is making a special effort on behalf of the Adirondacks.”

“The American Lung Association in New York commends Senator Gillibrand for her commitment to protecting New Yorkers’ health by sponsoring the Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010,” said Scott T. Santarella, President & CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. “If enacted, these amendments would mean much cleaner air for New Yorkers, reduced asthma episodes, fewer asthma-induced trips to the emergency room and more lives saved.  We thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the Clean Air Act Amendments would save more than 215,000 lives and more than $2 trillion in health care costs by 2025, by cleaning the air and thereby reducing Americans’ likelihood of suffering from chronic lung disease, asthma, or lung cancer.

Additionally, the EPA is moving forward with enhanced National Air Ambient Quality Standards to reduce these pollutants. This legislation would help communities meet these air quality standards so new manufacturers can get clean air permits to build new facilities and hire new workers.

Specifically, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 would require utilities, through the use of emissions-control equipment and other technologies, to:

  • Cut SO2 emissions by 80 percent (from 7.6 million tons in 2008 to 1.5 million tons in 2018).
  • Cut NOx emissions by 53 percent (from 3 million tons in 2008 to 1.6 million tons in 2015).
  • Cut mercury emissions by at least 90 percent no later than 2015.

 To ensure that regulations are cost-effective, the legislation also establishes nationwide trading systems for SO2 and NOX emissions to ensure that reductions are cost-effective.  Mercury emissions would be reduced by EPA by utilizing the maximum available control technology