Millions of Americans will be able to breathe easier with the release of the Environmental Protection Agency‘s new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. This proposed rule will reduce hundreds of thousands of tons of soot and smog from being released into the air that travels across state borders. Today as the air is unhealthy here in New Jersey, at an orange ozone level, this rule will help protect our lungs. This Rule will protect the health of millions of Americans around the country from premature death, asthma attacks, and nonfatal heart attacks.
The New Jersey Sierra Club applauds the EPA for protecting our lungs on a bad air day in New Jersey. This rule will go a long way to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey from out of state and in state pollution from coal power plants.
Smog is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution that only worsens during hot summer days. Soot is a mix of metals, chemicals, and acid drops. Both of these dangerous air pollutants come from dirty coal-fired power plants, cars, and trucks. However you do not have to live in communities that are near coal plants or busy high to be at risk for serious health problems because of air you breathe.
Millions of Americans are affected by pollution that is carried long distances by the wind or weather from dirty power plants miles away. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will improve air quality by cutting emission that contributes to pollution problems in other states. Along with this rule the EPA has come up with a comprehensive package of rules regarding coal pollution, CAIR, the Coal Ash Rule and the Mercury Rule. With the coal industry and their allies in Congress attacking these rules it makes it that much more important to support these rules that protect our health.
The EPA has put together an important package of rules to protect the people of New Jersey and United States for the pollution from coal power plants. Together these rules go a long way in cleaning our air and protecting our environment.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help protect New Jersey because we get a third of our pollution from out of state dirty power plants. Even though we do not have as many coal plants as other states, because of our location at the end of the air stream, we receive a lot of pollution from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other Midwestern states. GenOne the coal plant located in Portland, Pennsylvania is the largest pollution source in Northwestern New Jersey. Added to the pollution from own our coal plants, BL England, Hudson and Mercer Generating Plants, coal pollution is having a devastating health impact in New Jersey.
According to a report "Toll from Coal," 531 people in New Jersey die each year from coal related deaths. There are 445 hospitalizations and 987 heart attacks in New Jersey from coal plants. For years, we have been subsidizing the coal industry because we have not charged them for the impacts they have on society and health. This proposed rule will ensure that our lungs no longer have to bear the burden from other states dirty air emissions.
Air pollution from coal-fired power plants and from cars is especially harmful to our children. According to the EPA, asthma affects one out of every 10 school children and asthma is the top illness that causes kids to miss school. Children are especially vulnerable to these pollutants because their lungs are still developing. On a hot summer day when all children want to do is go out and play many of them are stuck indoors because of high levels of smog or soot in their communities. Clean air would mean a healthy economy, as residents of New Jersey could reduce health costs, sick days and boost the clean energy sector.
We thank Lisa Jackson for all her hard work on going after pollution from coal fired power plants. She is an environmental champion and we are proud of the work she has done on this as well as other issues.
Roughly half the people in the United States live in counties that have dangerous levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association. More than 35 million Americans live within 300 feet of a major road, putting them at greater risk for illnesses like asthma. Air pollution from power plants is estimated to kill 13,000 people each year in the United States.
According to the EPA the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule protect over 240 million Americans living in the eastern half of the country. The proposed rule will also prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014 - achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits.
For too long we have been paying for the costs of air pollution with all these health problems. We need strong air quality standards from the EPA to help clean up major sources of pollution, protect our public health, and better our economy.
The coal lobby and their allies in Congress will try to prevent this rule from going forward as they are trying to stop other rules. It is critical for the people of New Jersey and across the county to stand up for clean air and against special interest.
Jeff Tittel is the Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.
ALSO BY JEFF TITTEL