Massachusetts announces strict power plant emissions rules

Tuesday, April 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Massachusetts will become the first state to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under clean-air rules set to go into effect in June.

The new standards unveiled Monday by acting Gov. Jane Swift also will limit mercury emissions and require deep cuts in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and smog-causing nitrogen oxide.

The regulations will apply to the state's six dirtiest power plants, which produce 40 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts.

``This sets the bar for any other state that is doing power plant clean ups,'' said Conrad Schneider, a spokesman for Clean Air Task Force, a national environmental advocacy group that monitors power plant emissions. ``And it sets the bar for the national debate for what the level of reduction should be in federal legislation.''

Proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions surged onto the national scene last month when Swift's fellow Republican, President Bush, reversed a campaign pledge to push for carbon dioxide power plant limits.

``He and I, in this case, came to a different conclusion,'' Swift said as she announced the new Massachusetts regulations.

Power plants would be required to cut average carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent under the new regulations. Many scientists believe such emissions are causing the Earth to warm significantly.

Efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions have often presented a political challenge for state officials because the reductions have little direct impact locally.

``I know that climate change is a global problem _ but that does not mean we should sit around and wait for global solutions,'' said state Environmental Affairs Secretary Bob Durand.

A spokesman for the Competitive Power Coalition of New England, an industry group, said the strict rules would lead to higher electric rates and increase the risk of outages. Swift dismissed that prediction, noting that several new power plants were planned for the region.