EPA Finalizes Clean Air “Good Neighbor” Rule to Reduce Air Pollution, Improve Health of Millions

BY ON July 12, 2011

This piece was cross-posted at Writes Like She Talks  Jill Miller Zimon

From NPR:

The new rule replaces a similar Bush administration regulation that was struck down by a court that deemed it too lenient. The new rule will cut almost 2 million more tons of pollution per year than the Bush administration program.

States from Texas to New York will have to slash 70 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions and 50 percent of nitrogen oxides from power plants, compared with 2005 pollution levels.

Scientists say the fine particles and ozone from these plants contribute to deadly heart and lung failures.

The agency estimates the rule will be so potent that within three years, it will prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths each year.

I would hope that Michele Bachmann and others who deploy aggressive rhetoric in the name of being pro-life or even loving the smell of emissions can find a way to support an effort like this one, but I’m not holding my breath, no pun intended. They should be sure to look at the interactive map and data (as well as this more static but simple depiction) that show just how many lives are at stake and where.  Additionally:

Starting in 2014, the rule will:

• Save up to 34,000 lives per year
• Prevent 400,000 asthma attacks per year
• Avoid 1.8 million sick days per year
• Provide benefits of $120 to $280 billion per year

You can read more about it from the EPA here and from the Environmental Defense Fund here.

Other reaction to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule:

In the New York Times:

Public health groups such as the American Lung Association praised the Obama administration for moving forward briskly at a time when some EPA initiatives are being delayed or scaled back.

“For too long, soot and smog pollution have traveled far from their sources, impacting public health,” said Albert Rizzo, a pulmonologist and the Lung Association’s incoming chairman, in a statement. “States cannot protect their citizens from pollution that blows in from neighboring states without a strong Clean Air Act and vigorous enforcement of the law by EPA.”

However, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, a coal business powerhouse state, thinks otherwise:

And he’s not the only Democratic member of the US Senate to feel that way.

From the businesses themselves? The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity issued this statement which includes the following:

“The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO 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.”

Remember the binary thing I talked about regarding clean air? That how you stand on these regulations indicates whether you prioritize business over humans?  There it is, pure and simple.  Not a single word of empathy for the millions of lives and billions in health care to be saved, protected or gained by supporting clean air regulations.

But contrary to the utility companies’ fears of job loss resulting from this new rule, research indicates exactly the opposite – jobs will be created:

…the New Jobs Cleaner Air study, published by the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts and the non-profit organization Ceres, predicts that companies modernizing and upgrading their equipment will create nearly 300,000 new jobs.

From the Political Economy Research Institute:

Among the report’s key findings:

• Based on recent estimates that the power sector will invest almost $200 billion total in capital improvements over the next five years, total employment created by these capital investments is estimated at 1.46 million jobs, or about 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years.

• Installing modern pollution controls and building new power plants creates a wide array of skilled, high-paying installation, construction and professional jobs, as well as jobs at companies that manufacture pollution controls and other required construction/maintenance equipment.

• Among the states that will see the biggest job gains from this construction activity are Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, North Carolina and Indiana.

Furthermore, the study cited by the coal companies in support of the job loss claim was called bogus…in the same report:

That same report [that claims the rules would cost tens of thousands of jobs] quotes Michael J. Bradley, the executive director of the Clean Energy Group, saying that the fossil fuel industry report is bogus. Bradley says that most utilities have already installed the equipment needed to meet the standards, with the exception of a few power plants. “The bottom line is the industry is well positioned to comply with this [and] has been anticipating this for three to four years now.” [emphasis added]

How many years off your life, the life of those you love and the life of those to whom we give birth are you willing to relinquish in favor of more utility company profits?


Finally, excellent news: The deadline to submit comments on the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule has been extended to August 4. If you haven’t already done so, you have through then to email the EPA and show your support for the rule.  And, of course, you can join the Moms Clean Air Force to help fight for clean air for our kids anytime. Every voice counts and is needed. Thank you.

TOPICS: Asthma, Economics, Mercury Poisoning, Politics, Pollution, Social Justice