Alexander: “If We Want More Nissan and Volkswagen Plants, We Must Stop Dirty Air From Blowing into Tennessee”

Supports clean air rule requiring utilities in other states to install “the same pollution controls that TVA already is installing on its coal-fired power plants”

Posted on June 12, 2012

To reduce costs, introduces bipartisan bill to allow six years to comply with rule—the timeline many utilities have requested


“While some have said this rule is anti-coal, I say that it is pro-coal because pollution control equipment guarantees coal a future in our clean energy mix. Longterm, TVA will be able to produce at least one third of its electricity from clean coal plants.  The rest will come from even cleaner natural gas and pollution-free nuclear or hydropower.”  -- Lamar Alexander


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said he would vote to uphold a new federal clean air rule “because healthier air means better jobs for Tennesseans—every one of Tennessee’s major metropolitan areas is struggling to meet standards that govern whether industries can acquire the air quality permits to locate here.”

In remarks delivered on the floor of the United States Senate, Alexander said, “This rule requires utilities in other states to install the same pollution controls that TVA already is installing on its coal-fired power plants. TVA alone can’t clean up our air. Tennessee is bordered by more states than any other state. We are surrounded by our neighbors’ smokestacks. If we want more Nissan and Volkswagen plants, we will have to stop dirty air from blowing into Tennessee.”

He continued: “Here’s why: The first thing Nissan did when it came to Tennessee in 1980 was apply for an air quality permit for emissions from its paint plant. If Nashville’s air had already been too dirty to allow these emissions, Nissan would have gone to Georgia, and one third of Tennessee’s manufacturing jobs today would not be auto jobs.”

The senator also noted that cleaner air means more jobs from tourism. “East Tennesseans know,” he said, “that 9 million tourists a year come to see the Great Smoky Mountains—not the Great Smoggy Mountains.” He said the Great Smokies is one of the nation’s most polluted parks.

“We have 546 Tennesseans working in coal mines, according to the Energy Information Administration, and every one of those jobs is important,” the senator said. “There are also 1,200 Tennesseans who work at the Alstom plants in Knoxville and Chattanooga that will supply the country with pollution control equipment required by this rule. Every one of their jobs is important, too.”

He cited the health advantages of the new rule, pointing out that “three of the five worst U.S. cities for asthma are in Tennessee” and that, because of high levels of mercury, health advisories warn against eating fish caught in many of Tennessee’s streams. The new rule would require coal-fired power plants to put on advanced pollution control equipment to control mercury emissions along with 186 other pollutants, including arsenic, acid gases and toxic metals, as required by the Clean Air Act amendments passed by Congress in 1990.

The senator said that he will vote against a resolution by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe disapproving of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Utility MACT rule.

To reduce costs, Alexander introduced legislation with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to allow six years to comply with the rule, a timeline many utilities have requested. He and Pryor also urged President Obama “to exercise his already existing authority to allow six years.”

# # #