Emissions rules could cost jobs

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) said it believes a three-year timeframe for reducing emissions of carbon, mercury and other pollutants through the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standard is not realistic. The union is backing a bill calling for Congress to delay new rules on emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Union official said they have met with the EPA to discuss concerns and recognize the agency has limited discretion and flexibility in addressing compliance timelines because it is bound by federal court mandates.

The union said 50,000 jobs are at stake if power plants cannot get an extra five or six years to either clean up or shut down their oldest coal-fired power plants. Under the Clean Air Act, plants get three years with a possible one-year extension after that to install emissions control equipment.

The 720,000-member union represents 220,000 employees of electric, natural gas and water utilities. That includes about 20,000 workers at coal-fired power plants and others at the railroads that deliver coal.

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