Some of the plants on the list, like Chicago's Crawford plant, have closed or are slated to close in the next few years.
"We have been doing work, we are doing work, and we will continue to do work on our plants," said Susan Olazarria, spokesperson for Midwest Generation, the subsidiary owner of the Crawford plant. Olavarria noted that Midwest Generation already has a fleet of coal plants that meet federal mercury emissions standards that don't go into effect for years.
The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Obama administr
ation, has throttled the coal-powered electricity industry, proposing the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants and also seeking a 91 percent cut in mercury emissions by 2016. The rules, proposed in March, would apply to all new power plants but are so steep that coal-fired power plants could only meet the standard by capturing and storing some of their carbon dioxide emissions – a practice too costly to be used commercially today. Natural gas plants can meet the proposed standard without additional equipment.
Coal today provides about 45 percent of the nation's electricity, a declining share that the EPA projects will slide below 30 percent by 2035.
This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.