Good riddance to the Glen Lyn plant

Word from AEP that it will most likely be shuttering its 90-plus year-old Glen Lyn plant is unequivocally good news. You wouldn’t know that by the reaction of some politicians, though, who complain that new EPA regulations behind the closure will cost jobs.

“When they spend billions of dollars, we’re going to pay every penny of that” in higher electricity bills, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, told The Roanoke Times. “It’s a huge cost, and it’s all because of the EPA.” West Virginia’s Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, for instance, sent out a release complaining that West Virginia would lose more than 200 jobs because of plant closures announced there as part of AEP: “Today’s announcement by AEP reinforces the belief that the EPA is out of touch with the economic impact of their overreaching regulations,” Tomblin wrote.

Griffith and Tomblin act like the EPA is doing this just to be mean or to intentionally hurt the economy. But the fact is that closing the Glen Lyn plant will save lives. According to a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, pollution from the Glen Lyn plant is responsible for 31 deaths a year, as well as 47 heart attacks and 480 asthma attacks.

These new stricter nationwide standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic emissions will prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths, 11,000 heart attacks and 12,000 emergency room visits. The EPA estimates the cost of compliance will be around $10 billion, but the economic benefit will be closer to $100 billion.

Griffith and Tomblin want to merely whine about the cost without considering the benefits, including lives saved.

The Glen Lyn plant is an ancient, dirty beast that has polluted Virginia’s air and sickened and killed those who live near it. Its demise should be celebrated and, if possible, hastened even further.


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