EPA Announces New Air Standards to Improve Health of Mainers

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 827 )

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced finalized clean air standards that target air pollution that crosses state borders and will make it easier for Maine and other states to protect public health.  The long-awaited new limits are on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution coming from power plants. These new limits will  significantly improve the health  of people on the receiving end of such pollution.  The word came in a press release from the Natural Resouces Council of Maine (NRCM.org)

“Because Maine is at the end of the tailpipe for the nation’s air pollution, we have the most to gain from the new standards that will help cut ozone smog emissions from power plants that flow here from across state lines,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resouraces Council of Maine.  “By fall we hope that EPA will also finalize its pending rules to protect people’s health from toxic mercury, arsenic, and other hazardous air pollution from power plants.  The coal power industry has escaped reasonable limits on its pollution for far too long.  We urge EPA to maintain and enforce these protective standards.”

“This is an example of the Clearn Air Act doing exactly what it was meant to do:  protect the public’s health,” said Lani Graham,  M.D.,  a public health expert and former head of Maine’s Center for Disease Control.  “Air pollution, especially from coal power plants, continues to cause health problems for Maine people, especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and children.  But it doesn’t have to be that way and today’s rule is a big step toward reducing pollution and improving health.”

The press release continued to say that every year, emissions from power plants  – primarily coal-fired plants – contribute to 23,000 to 60,000 deaths. 3.1 million lost work days and 18 million acute respiratory symptoms, due to particulate pollution alone.  According to the EPA, the updae to clean air standards would yield $120 – $290 billion in health and economic benefits in 2014 alone, including the value of avoiding 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths.   This far outweighs the estimated annual costs of $2.8 billion.

“We applaud the EPA and the Obama Administration for taking this much-needed step toward saving lives and protecting public health, especially here in Maine,” said Ed Miller Senior Vice-President for Health Promotion and Public Policy for the American Lung Association of Maine.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine is located at 3 Wade Street, Augusta.  Please visit www.nrcm.org