June 3, 2010
Virginia Cramer, 804-519-8449
New Air Pollution Safeguard Will Protect Health
For the first time in 40 years today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new official limit on the amount of dangerous sulfur dioxide pollution in the air. Sulfur dioxide is a contributor to harmful soot and acid rain and comes from sources like coal-fired power plants. The new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide follows similar protective standards issued by the EPA for ozone, or smog, pollution earlier this year. Together these new safeguards mark a return to science by the Obama Administration and will protect the health of millions of Americans.
EPA estimates that today's new safeguard will prevent 54,000 asthma attacks each year and save up to $33 billion in health costs annually.
In response Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director issued the following statement.
"For too long polluters, both on and off shore, have been left to their own devices, with sometimes devastating results. But today we're seeing the kind of action needed to ensure that polluters are held accountable and that they clean up so that average citizens can live better lives. We applaud EPA's efforts to set new clean air standards that will help us all breathe a little easier.
"Sulfur dioxide poses serious health risks, including worsening asthma, and is especially dangerous to children and older adults. And as a contributor to acid rain the pollution can wreak havoc on our natural systems, damaging them in the short term and also over time impairing their ability to recover.
"Coal plants are among the largest sources of soot and smog pollution, including sulfur dioxide. With more than 500 plants currently operating in our country, many lacking modern pollution controls, it is our communities that are paying the costs in increased asthma attacks and other health problems.
"The additional monitoring and modeling proposed by EPA today will help protect communities closest to the pollution sites and will help speed the clean up of some of our nation’s biggest polluters. This is another indication that the Obama administration sees the big picture and is working hard to put safeguards in place to build the clean energy future."