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What is CSAPR Anyway?

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05 September 2013, 10:20 AM
Clean air safeguard would save thousands of lives
A regional smog layer extends across central New York, western Lake Erie and Ohio, and further west. Winds bring ozone and chemicals that participate in its formation to areas downwind of emission sources. (NASA JSC)

On Wednesday, we filed a legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a very important air safeguard to take effect. So what’s so important about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and how does it work?

Let’s get to the numbers first. The rule saves lives, plain and simple. According to the EPA, the air safeguard would every year prevent:

  • 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths
  • 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks
  • 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits
  • 19,000 episodes of acute bronchitis
  • 420,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms
  • 400,000 episodes of aggravated asthma, and
  • 1.8 million days of missed work or school.

Here is how the rule works: it limits the interstate transport of emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides (both nasty, poisonous chemicals that come out of power plants), which contribute to levels of PM2.5 (fine particles that can lodge deep within the body’s lungs, causing serious cardiovascular and respiratory harm and even death) and ozone. The rule would identify the emissions within 27 states in the U.S. that affect the ability of neighboring and downwind states to achieve cleaner air. The rule would substantially reduce the adverse air quality impacts of these emissions transported across state lines. 

This is such an important rule that Earthjustice, co-counsel for Environmental Defense Fund, other environmental groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency and various states, asked the Supreme Court to reverse a court of appeals decision invalidating the rule.

Here is what Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox said about CSAPR:

This crucial safeguard will offer protection from some of our nation’s deadliest air pollution. The Clean Air Act requires cleanup of pollution that crosses state lines and harms other states’ ability to meet national air quality standards designed to safeguard public health and the environment.

Why would we pass up a chance to prevent thousands of premature deaths each and every year?

Shades of 'Soylent Green': coal power is people!

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