Get Ready: Confronting Carbon Pollution

Friday, May 30th, 2014 | Posted by Molly Moore | No Comments

outsource_newsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing power plants are expected to be unveiled on Monday, June 2. For environmental news junkies like us, this is the equivalent of the Super Bowl pre-game show. See what the buzz is about, and read our coverage of the rules in The Appalachian Voice. [ More ]

Like a “good neighbor,” the Supreme Court is there

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 1 Comment

coal-plantThe U.S. Supreme Court handed a significant win to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency when it revived a federal rule aimed at reducing air pollution that travels across state lines and harms the health of those downwind, and the ability of certain states to meet Clean Air Act requirements. [ More ]

50th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1963

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 | Posted by Kimber Ray | No Comments

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Although the Clean Air Act was first enacted Dec. 17, 1963, it wasn't until the 1970 Clean Air Act amendments that the law was substantial enough to make a memorable mark on history. Perhaps embarrassed by memories of the more clumsy and inept act of 1963, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency itself gave the 50th anniversary the cold shoulder — instead celebrating the of the amendments Dec. 31, 2010.

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EPA’s Benefits Greatly Outweigh Costs, According to OMB Report

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 | Posted by Davis Wax | No Comments

A new report shows the EPA's rules, especially on air pollution, are saving money and lives.

During their push to abolish, obstruct and stymie the Environmental Protection Agency over the past few years, House Republicans have beleaguered the agency for regulatory measures they consider “job-killing” or “anti-industry,” hoping to revert federal environmental regulation to state control or make protections obsolete altogether.

Those in favor of federal rules have argued that national standards allow for the most effective and consistent protections and, as a result, will lead to reduced costs in health care directly associated with air and water pollution.

A new report from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget makes a clear case for why the country needs the EPA. The report includes an analysis of the costs and benefits of a number of federal regulations over the past decade and shows EPA rules, especially those pertaining to air protection, to be the most costly among all the rules evaluated but also the most beneficial.

The budget office estimates that the EPA’s rules account for 58 to 80 percent of the monetized benefits of all federal rules, but 44 to 54 percent of the total costs. Out of these benefits, close to 99 percent come from rules that seek to improve air quality. The report claims that the large estimated benefits of the EPA rules following the arrival of the Clean Air Act stem mostly from the reduction of a single air pollutant: fine particulate matter.

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Another Setback for the Much Needed Cross-State Pollution Rule

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Posted by Thom Kay | 1 Comment

The EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday would improve air quality for an estimated 240 million Americans and prevent between 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths each year.

A critical clean air rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which would help provide cleaner air for an estimated 240 million Americans — including Appalachians — was dealt a setback today by the U.S. Court of Appeals which rejected the rule 2-to-1.

Finalized in August 2011, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would help prevent pollution from power plants in one state from reaching downwind states. EPA estimates that the rule would prevent between 13,000 and 34,000 premature deaths by 2014, along with preventing thousands of nonfatal heart attacks, asthma attacks, sick days and other negative health impacts associated with air pollution.

The rule focuses on the reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. These pollutants are emitted mostly from coal-fired power plants, particularly plants concentrated in the Southeast that burn high-sulfur Central Appalachian coal, much of which is from mountaintop removal mines.

Advocacy groups across the country are already calling for the Obama administration to appeal the ruling, and we fully expect them to do so. The other option is to start from scratch, delaying much needed pollution limits even longer.

That is not an alternative we can live with.

EPA Revising Air Pollution Standards

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted by Thom Kay | No Comments

Last Friday, EPA announced it will be considering revisions to the first-ever standards for controlling mercury, arsenic, selenium and other toxic pollutants from coal fired power plants, issued in December. These standards are the result of a years-long process, and while Appalachian Voices applauded them, many coal and utility companies vocally opposed them because coal plants would have to install new pollution controls. coal plant

Those controls would not only dramatically reduce the harmful toxics, they would also help control soot and other pollution. EPA estimates the standards would prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year, and reduce childhood asthma symptom and acute bronchitis, meaning fewer hospital visits and sick days. In other words, the rule is too important for the country to undergo weakening revisions.

The concern is that EPA, in reconsidering the standards, may weaken these critical health protections for five proposed coal fired power plants across the country, including Plant Washington in Georgia. The cynical approach to the news is to assume that this a political move or a concession to the coal and utilities industries. The optimistic approach is to assume that this is simply EPA making small alterations in order to create a sensible rule that can be implemented and enforced.

For now, we don’t know precisely what changes the EPA will make, but it is necessary that they enforce the Clean Air Act and refuse to compromise the health of the American people. Appalachian Voices will be closely following this process to ensure there is no backsliding.

VICTORY: Alexander, Hagan, Rockefeller vote for Clean Air

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 | Posted by JW Randolph | No Comments

Inhofe Resolution fails despite support of Virginia Senators Webb, Warner

Big news out of the Senate as Senator Inhofe’s most recent effort to stop clean air protections (SR 37) was killed by a vote of 46 to 53. Much more on the specifics of the legislation here. A handful of Republicans, including Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, did the right thing by voting this bill down. This was despite the fact that Inhofe has been connected with groups running attack ads against his fellow Republican regarding this vote. Other Republicans who voted correctly alongside Senator Alexander were Senators Ayotte (NH), Brown (MA), Collins (ME), and Snowe (ME).

Most Democrats opposed the resolution, including West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller. This was following a moving floor speech by the Senator on the future of coal, and their need to embrace change. Senator Rockefeller has traditionally worked in lockstep with the coal industry. However, his blunt advice to them, perhaps for the first time, conjured memories of the late West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd. In some of his final public statements, Byrd had warned that the coal industry needed to adapt and change to have a strong future.

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