Representatives from the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia and the Ecology Department said today that new EPA regulations probably won’t have any effect on a deal forged earlier this month to end coal-fired electricity generation in Washington.
The new EPA rule, announced this morning, would limit the amount of mercury a power plant can emit per unit of electricity produced, but participants in the Washington coal agreement said TransAlta was already on track to comply with the regulations.
“There will be no impact; we’d anticipated the rule,” said Angela Mallow, a spokeswoman for TransAlta.
The Centralia plant drew criticism about its mercury pollution in January when Environment Washington released a report saying it emitted about 360 pounds of the toxic metal per year. In response, TransAlta agreed to install technology that would cut its mercury emissions in half by Jan. 1, 2012.
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In a March 5 deal between the governor, environmental groups and TransAlta, the company agreed to phase out coal-burning entirely by 2025, and, if the agreement makes it through the Legislature, Mallow said TransAlta would probably shift to natural gas burning instead.
Under that scenario, the mercury emissions from TransAlta would drop to zero, said Seth Preston from the Ecology Department.
The deal, which was incorporated into Senate Bill 5769, already passed the Senate, but must make it through the House of Representatives and be signed by the governor in order to become law.