A resolution passed Tuesday by the Mississippi state Senate puts us on the wrong side of the Clean Air fight. It asks the EPA to delay, yet again, its rules that would require coal-fired poower plants to reduce pollution.
“President Obama’s EPA clearly overreached with this plan that would hamper Mississippi’s efforts to grow its energy sector and result in a potential 40 percent hike in utility rates,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “The resolution passed by the Senate today sends a message that Mississippi does not want federal overreach into our energy development, placing our state at a competitive disadvantage.”
I disagree. But then, I live a few miles from Plant Watson and I can't wait for it to start running exclusively on natural gas, even though I'm sure this fine black powder that for years has coated my driveway, lawn furniture and siding is some naturally occuring element in the air.
But Mississippi Power gets it.
"Repowering Plant Watson to natural gas has been part of Mississippi Power's resource planning for some time to ensure we meet or exceed environmental standards set by the state and federal governments," Allen Reaves, vice president of generation and senior production officer told the Sun Herald this year.
Americans get it, too. And they have for years. A 2012 bipartisan survey (a Republican and a Democratic firm partcipated) by the American Lung Association found that nearly three-quarters of us don't believe we have to choose between clean air and a strong economy. Two-thirds of voters favor stricter limits on air pollution.
The argument about federal overeach is short-sighted, too. Maybe Mississippi doesn't wants federal overreach, which is debatable, but perhaps the folks downwind of us do.
Maybe the people who eat fish from the Gulf, wish it had a little less mercury in it. That's the trouble with air, it just has no respect for state borders.
The battle lines are clearly drawn, as U.S. News and World Report reported Tuesday: "The country’s biggest air polluters, joined by 19 Republican-led states, are challenging an Environmental Protection Agency measure that would force roughly 600 coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic and other toxic metals and gases they let escape into the air, lakes and rivers."
I'll side with the free-breathers.