New clean air rules will help improve health in Tennessee

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized additional Clean Air Act protections that will slash hundreds of thousands of tons of smokestack emissions that travel long distances, threatening the health of hundreds of millions of Americans living downwind.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will protect communities that are home to 240 million Americans from smog and soot pollution, preventing up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.8 million sick days a year beginning in 2014 — achieving up to $280 billion in annual health benefits.
Twenty seven states in the eastern half of the country — including Tennessee — will work with power plants to cut air pollution under the rule, which leverages widely available, proven and cost-effective control technologies.
EPA will work with states to develop the most appropriate path to deliver significant reductions in harmful emissions while minimizing costs for utilities and consumers.
“No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way.”
Carried long distances across the country by wind and weather, power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide continually travel across state lines.
The pollution reacts in the atmosphere and contributes to harmful levels of smog (ground-level ozone) and soot (fine particles), which are scientifically linked to widespread illnesses and premature deaths and prevent many cities and communities from enjoying healthy air quality.
The rule will improve air quality by cutting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to pollution problems in other states. By 2014, the rule and other state and EPA actions will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels. Nitrogen oxide emissions will drop by 54 percent.
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule replaces and strengthens the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit ordered EPA to revise in 2008.