Post-Election To-Do List: Curb Soot Pollution

BY ON November 5, 2012

Soot Pollution

This post was written by Dan Heyman for Virginia’s Public News Service:

Environmentalists say regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, lawmakers have unfinished business when it comes to clean air standards. By the end of the year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to finalize regulations to curb what is considered to be one of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of air pollution: fine particulate matter – soot – from coal-burning power plants.

The national president of Earthjustice, Trip Van Noppen, says finishing these safeguards is necessary to protect the health of Virginians and all Americans.

“Thousands of people are dying across the country from pollution from old, dirty coal-burning power plants that need better pollution controls. We’ve been taking steps in the direction of cleaning them up or closing them down. Some of that work has gotten done, but we’ve got a lot more to do.”

Van Noppen points to strong public support for strengthening air pollution standards, with more than 430,000 comments recently submitted to the EPA in favor of limits on soot pollution.

“It’s particularly important and particularly strongly supported in states that have a lot of coal-burning power plants, where the impacts are really felt in a most concentrated way.”

The standards would only cover new power plants, but Van Noppen says leaders need to consider extending the standards to existing plants. Some have argued the rules will raise electricity price and close coal plants. Van Noppen says that’s not the case, adding that cleaning up dirty power plants will create jobs and provide critical health benefits.

The devastation of hurricane Sandy is a wake-up call for national leaders on the critical need to curb the pollution that contributes to climate change, Van Noppen says.

“Sea levels are rising and storms are getting more intense because of climate change, and those storms will hit heavily populated places with very vulnerable infrastructure and very vulnerable residential areas; there’s going to be a lot of damage.”

Long-term exposure to soot pollution has been linked to chronic respiratory illnesses. Some studies show it is associated with lung cancer, stroke and heart disease.


TOPICS: Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Coal, Heat and Extreme Weather, Pollution, Social Justice