The New York Times Green blog has a good post today that spells out in no uncertain terms the cost of delaying health standards for coal plants’ toxic air pollution: thousands of preventable deaths.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the historic action of proposing these long-overdue health standards, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year. In the Times post, John Bachmann, a former director for science and policy in the EPA’s air quality division is quoted thus: “This could have been done 20 years ago. These delays, as they’ve mounted up, have had a cost in people dying sooner. And it’s not trivial.”
The Times post provides some interesting history, including the failed attempt by the Bush administration to remove coal plants from the list of hazardous air polluters and institute an industry-favored mercury trading program. Coal plants are the nation’s worst emitters of toxic air pollutants such as mercury, acid gases, and arsenic. That they will finally be subject to health protections afforded by the Clean Air Act is a very good thing indeed.
Earthjustice played an integral role in overturning the Bush administration’s illegal mercury scheme and helped secure the court-ordered deadline that led to the EPA’s proposal on Wednesday. Now begins the important work of supporting strong health protections against coal plants’ toxic air emissions. The public’s voice is instrumental in this process, so I encourage you to join our Right to Breathe campaign and stay tuned for more ways you can help.