EU states give 14 more years to dirty coal plants
By Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Coal-fired power plant operators can avoid having to cut the emissions that cause acid rain if they promise to shut down altogether by 2024, European Union countries agreed on Friday, disappointing environmentalists.
Power stations that operate into 2024 and beyond must start cutting out pollutants such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides that damage human health and soil and water quality, under the deal on the Industrial Emissions Directive.
Though the rules do not cover carbon dioxide emissions, they have an indirect impact by allowing big emitters to keep going.
"After more than two years of difficult negotiations we have a compromise," said German liberal politician Holger Krahmer, who represented the European Parliament in the talks that ended in an informal deal on Wednesday.
Krahmer said the deal, which was formally approved by EU ambassadors on Friday, improved the regulation of most industrial installations. But he described the opt-outs for coal-fired power plants as a "European tragedy."
Countries that are struggling to get the industry cleaned up can get a delay until June 30, 2020, under the deal which weaves together and updates six complex air quality laws with the old Large Combustion Plant Directive.
"Allowing Transitional National Plans for a whole decade is nothing else than legalising air pollution from ancient coal-fired power plants," said Krahmer.
Under the "limited lifetime" derogation for individual power stations, they must close by the end of 2023 or after 17,500 hours of operation, whichever happens first. Continued...