How Might EPA’s New Carbon Rules Affect Lung Health?

Here’s some data from the American Lung Association on how EPA’s new carbon rules might affect lung health.  Mainly, it’s through the reduction of fine particulate matter pollution – PM 2.5 – which is one of the many pollutants emitted along with carbon dioxide when certain fossil fuels are burned, primarily coal.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan:  First-Ever Limits on Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants  

EPA’s Clean Power Plan will protect public health immediately and in the future.

Climate change affects the nation’s health now and threatens more harm in the future.  To combat climate change, the nation must cut carbon pollution from the biggest source—power plants. On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.  When put in place in 2030, this Clean Power Plan will save up to 6,600 lives each year.

EPA’s proposal gives states proven tools, wide flexibility and measurable deadlines.

EPA proposal sets specific limits on the amount of carbon pollution each state can produce by 2030.  States must put in place a plan to meet their goal. EPA encourages the states to use many approaches to cut carbon pollution.  The standards do not set requirements for individual plants, but do encourage states to improve how electricity is produced and used.

States have four proven tools, or “building blocks” to reduce carbon pollution.

  1. Make fossil fuel power plants more efficient to get as much electricity as possible from each unit of fuel.
  2. Use low-emitting power sources more, including natural gas units.
  3. Use cleaner power sources more, including expanding solar and wind.
  4. Use electricity more efficiently.  Reducing the demand for electricity reduces emissions.

States have wide flexibility. Once the standards are adopted in June 2015, states will have up to three years to develop plans to meet the goals either working independently or cooperatively with other states.  States can develop plans that meet the unique needs and resources that each state has.  Each state can build plans that allow their communities to have cleaner electricity and spur innovation at affordable rates.

States have measureable deadlines.  EPA sets 2030 as the final deadline when the states will need to have met their goals. However, states must demonstrate meaningful progress by 2020 and show continued progress every two years until the full plan is in place in 2030. That means that states cannot delay action until 2029 to meet the 2030 goal.  If a state fails to comply, EPA then will have the authority to establish a plan for that state.

By 2030, the standards will reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

EPA did not set a specific amount of power plant carbon pollution they wanted to cut. Instead, they looked at the available options for the states and calculated how much carbon pollution could be cut in each state using the tools commonly available. Then, EPA added all the reductions to find what was possible by 2020 and by 2030.

By 2030, the standards will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks.

Cleaning up carbon pollution will reduce other pollutants emitted from power plants, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, as well as reducing ozone and fine particle pollution. Those pollutants cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, developmental harm, and premature death.  Every $1 invested in cleaning up carbon pollution is expected to provide up to $7 in health and economic benefits.

Next steps. People will have 120 days to submit comments, including at public hearings in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. EPA will consider all comments before adopting final standards in June, 2015.

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