The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) yesterday, which will protect the health of millions of Americans by helping states to reduce air pollution and attain higher clean air standards.
The CSAPR requires 27 states to improve their air quality significantly, through reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states, in effect protecting citizens from invading smokestack pollution.
“No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses. These Clean Air Act safeguards will help protect the health of millions of Americans and save lives by preventing smog and soot pollution from traveling hundreds of miles and contaminating the air they breathe. By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way.” – EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
These landmark clean air standards were praised by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which they say will provide both longer and healthier lives for some 240 million people across the eastern half of the U.S. who are affected by power plant pollution that comes across their borders.
“These clean air standards for power plant pollution will provide some of the greatest human health protections in our nation’s history. Millions of Americans live downwind from this deadly pollution – from the communities that live in the shadows of these smokestacks to those afflicted by the pollution that drifts hundreds of miles downwind. Today’s clean air protections will help eastern states restore healthy air in communities hard hit by air pollution, and will help all of us live longer and healthier lives.” – EDF President Fred Krupp
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule lowers the limits on the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO) pollution that power plants in 27 states in the eastern U.S. are allowed to emit. That pollution can and does drift across the borders of those states, contributing to hazardous – and sometimes lethal – levels of particulate and smog pollution in states downwind from the power plants.
The CSAPR has been in the works for six years, and according to the EPA will reduce the levels of nitrogen oxide emitted by 54% and the sulfur dioxide levels by 73% (from 2005 levels). The rule will begin to be phased in starting on January 1, 2012. The rule was issued under the “Good Neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which ensures that the emissions from one state’s power plants don’t cause harmful pollution levels in neighboring states.
The final rule yields $120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits in 2014, including the value of avoiding 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, preventing 400,000 asthma attacks per year, and avoiding 1.8 million sick days per year. This far outweighs the estimated annual costs of CSAPR ($800 million in annual projected costs, plus approximately $1.6 billion per year in capital investments in clean air).
Are you curious about just what the Clean Air Act has done for us so far?