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March 27, 2012

New Carbon Pollution Safeguards Will Protect Our Health, Our Children's Future

SmogToday, our nation is taking a historic step for our health and our children’s future. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama Administration have just announced new carbon pollution safeguards that will protect clean air and the planet, while also spurring innovation and creating jobs in the clean energy economy.

Carbon pollution is linked to life-threatening air pollution like the smog that triggers asthma attacks, and it is the main contributor to climate disruption – making it a serious hazard to Americans’ health and future.

EPA today established new proposed safeguards under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from dangerous carbon pollution produced by new coal plants.

These standards will protect Americans' health, our economy and the future of our children, from carbon's threats. Before today, there were no limits on the amount of carbon being spewed into the air by the nation's largest sources of carbon pollution: dirty coal-fired power plants.

Concerned about these dangers, Americans have repeatedly said no to new coal-fired power plants for the past decade, defeating 166 proposed coal plants across the nation. Now, as the Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune, said today in a press statement, "These first-ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants mean that business as usual for the nation’s biggest sources of carbon pollution, dirty coal-burning utilities, is over."

As I’ve said before, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that warming temperatures caused by industrial carbon pollution pose a number of threats to our health and families, including worsening smog pollution, which in turn triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

Doctors, nurses, scientists and other experts say that this increased smog pollution is especially dangerous for children because it permanently damages and reduces the function of children’s lungs – a major concern for all my fellow parents out there.

These new air quality protections are a historic step forward in allowing EPA to focus on the industries that create the lion’s share of the nation’s carbon pollution, because it is time to hold big polluters accountable for the pollutants they spew into our air.

Over 120 health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society and others are on record stating:
Climate change is a serious public health issue. As temperatures rise, more Americans will be exposed to conditions that can result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, heat- and weather-related stress and disease carried by insects. These health issues are likely to have the greatest impact on our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, those with serious health conditions and the most economically disadvantaged.

Clean Air Act protections like these also spur innovation and modernization in our energy sector, creating much-needed jobs, protecting public health and tackling climate disruption. Countries around the world are racing to see who will lead the clean energy future, and we cannot afford to let American fall behind. These new protections will help ensure our nation is leading the way in developing the cutting-edge clean energy technologies of the 21st century.

Every family has the right to breathe clean air, free from the toxic pollution that has taken too many lives and destroyed too many communities. We cannot accept more dirty coal while our friends and family miss days of school and work, ending up in the emergency room instead. Or while American workers remain off the job, when clean energy projects could create thousands of sustainable careers. Or while the fate of our planet hangs in the balance, as global temperatures rise.

By establishing carbon pollution protections, the EPA is moving forward to clean up and modernize the way we power our country – a move that will make for healthier kids, families and workers, while creating much-needed jobs and fighting climate disruption.

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Beyond Coal Campaign


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