5:10pm

Wed June 15, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

EPA Chief Defends New Air Standards

The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency faced the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today to discuss the EPA’s  proposed air rules.  Lisa Jackson also talked about the new air standards’ impact on public health. In March, after a 20-year political and legal battle, the EPA proposed its first-ever national standards for regulating mercury and other air pollution from power plants. Jackson told the committee that when power plants have to comply with the new standards, it’ll have an incredible effect on Americans’ health.

“Deployment of these technologies will prevent an estimated 17,000 premature deaths, 11,000 heart attacks, 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms, 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children, 12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions and 850,000 days of work missed due to illness,” she said.

The rule would require all power plants to comply with the standard by 2016, and it has met heavy opposition from the coal and electric power industry. Jackson says the health problems created by air pollution are facts and not up for debate.

“Let me begin my testimony with a matter of fact,” she said. “Pollution, pollution like mercury and particulate matter shortens and reduces the quality of Americans’ lives and puts at risk the health and the development of future generations.”

The EPA has estimated that the annual cost for U.S. industries to comply with the rule will be nearly $11 billion total a year. The new air standards will save anywhere from $59 to $140 billion a year.

The Louisville metro area ranked high in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report for both year-round and short-term particle pollution, which is caused by power plants.