Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took action against coal-fired power plants that could save tens of thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of cases of respiratory illness, Pete Altman and John Walke report on the National Resources Defense Council Switchboard. Walke, NRDC’s clean air director, calls today’s proposed mercury and air toxics standards for coal- and oil-burning power plants “the most important actions to clean up air pollution from dirty coal-burning power plants since the Clean Air Act was last updated in 1990.”
The proposed standards are projected to save as many as 17,000 American lives every year by 2015 and prevent up to 120,000 cases of asthma and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children every year, Walke reports.
The proposed standards should reduce mercury emissions from power plants burning coal and oil by 91 percent, acid gas pollution by 91 percent, direct particulate matter (PM) emissions by 30 percent and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 53 percent.
The EPA is responding to a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that it must follow the Clean Air Act's protective safeguards, which require deep and timely reductions in toxic air pollution, including mercury, from the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Proposed EPA regulations would reduce mercury emissions from power plants burning coal and oil by 91 percent.