In an effort to stop air pollution from coal-fired power plants in the eastern United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a new regulation that replaces a 2005 regulation known as the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).
As early as 2012, the new regulation will go into effect and it covers power plants in roughly 27 states. The new regulation will force the power plants to cut millions of tons of soot and smog emissions while costing less than $1 billion per year to utility companies.
According to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson:
The new regulations, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, will improve air quality for 240 million Americans, preventing a projected 30 thousand premature deaths and up to 15 thousand nonfatal heart attacks, as well as hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments.
“As a mother of a son with asthma, I know that these numbers and the fight we wage for clean air are not just abstract concepts,” Jackson told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Behind these numbers are people’s lives and livelihoods. We all know that pollution generated in one state or one community does not stop at the border or the city lines. Just because wind and weather will carry air pollution away from its source at a local power plant doesn’t mean that pollution is no longer that plant’s responsibility.”
The EPA is already receiving some negative feedback on the new regulation from the affected energy industry and some lawmakers who are clearly influenced by the coal industry.
One example of this comes from Steve Miller, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity:
“America’s coal-fueled electric industry has been doing its part for the environment and the economy, but our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations. Unfortunately, EPA doesn’t seem to care.”
OK, there are several fallacies in his statement: One, I’m wondering what part coal-fired power plants have been doing for the environment? Second, clean coal technology is not here yet and probably never will be, so what is adequate time? Third, yes, the EPA does care about saving lives, unlike those who make fortunes with little regard for human life.
Here is what Agency officials had to say:
“By reducing this ozone and particle pollution which are linked to costly and life threatening problems such as asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths, we anticipate up to $280 billion in annual benefits,” said Jackson. “Those health and environmental benefits far outweigh the cost of the rule, which is estimated at about $800 million in 2014.”
See a full breakdown of projected health benefits below:
|Health Issue||Health Benefit|
|Non-fatal heart attacks||15,000 fewer|
|Cases of acute bronchitis||19,000 fewer|
|Premature deaths||30,000 prevented|
|Cases of aggravated asthma||400,000 fewer|
|Sick days||1.8 Million fewer|
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