AppVoices & Allies Push Clean Smokestacks Act

On March 4, members of Appalachian Voices and more than 100 other concerned citizens descended on Raleigh to urge lawmakers to protect and restore North Carolina’s air quality.

Acknowledging the validity of the argument advanced by the North Carolina Clean Air Coalition (NCCAC) that North Carolina’s air quality is in desperate need of protection, a bill was introduced in the NC Senate entitled “Improved Air Quality/Electric Utilities.”

With bipartisan support and more than 30 co-sponsors, the bill is a product of intense negotiations between representatives of the environmental community and the electric utilities. Among other things, it calls for:

• A statewide cap on the year-round emission of nitrogen oxides. This cap represents a 78% reduction from 1998 levels and will be phased in by 2009;

• A statewide cap on the year-round emission of sulphur dioxide. This cap, phased in by 2013, embodies a 73% reduction from 1998 levels;

• Directs the NC Environmental Management Commission to annually assess, beginning in 2004, the need to further reduce these pollutants;

• Directs the state to study the efficacy of setting statewide standards for both carbon dioxide and mercury emissions; and

• Provides mechanisms through which the utilities may recover the full cost of compliance for reductions required under this bill.

The bill is partly a response to a study released by the NCCAC called the “North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Plan,” which documents the harmful effects of air pollution on North Carolina’s residents and our environment. Studies cited in the plan reveal that air pollution from coal-fired power plants in North Carolina:

• Triggers more than 200,000 asthma attacks each year and causes more than 1,800 premature deaths, costing the state more than $300 million annually;

• Adds mercury to our waterways making king mackerel, bass, and bowfin unfit to eat;

• Makes Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham the 8th and 17th, respectively, smoggiest metropolitan areas in the nation;

• Reduces visibility in the southeast by 75% from natural levels decreasing economic activity in the vicinity of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by $200 million annually.

AppVoices encourages NC residents to urge their state representatives to support the bill.


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