Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Pollution Progress You Can See From Space - Sierra Daily

« Polar Bear Caption Contest | Main | Crying In Your Beer »

Sierra Daily

Dec 01, 2011

Pollution Progress You Can See From Space

Here's what sulfur dioxide pollution from major coal plants looked like from 2005-2007, courtesy of the ozone monitoring equipment on NASA's Aura satellite:Seusaso2_omi_2007

And here's the same view in the time period 2008-2010:


What changed? That would be the application of the EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule, which made coal-fired power plants (the black dots in the images) limit emissions of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant associated with acid rain and respiratory health problems. (See NASA's Earth Observatory site for a groovy sliding image comparison device.) The satellite data confirmed that application of the rule cut SO2 emissions by nearly half.

Just last month an attempt to stymie further progress on clean air was narrowly defeated when a number of Republican senators joined all but two Democrats to quash an attempt, led by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to block the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which addresses the dirty fumes that drift from one state to another. The rule will go into effect in January, 2012, contributing not only to the beauty of future satellite images but the health of 6-year olds like Peter.

--Paul Rauber

Image by NASA Earth Observatory 

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top