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APHA applauds EPA for new rules that reduce power plant pollution and benefit health

Date: Apr 25 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations

Today, the American Public Health Association announced its strong support for a suite of new rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce dangerous pollution from the power sector, including significant reductions in carbon pollution, mercury emissions and other hazardous pollutants from existing coal-fired and future natural gas-fired power plants.

These new rules will reduce carbon pollution from one of the nation’s largest contributors of carbon emissions, as well as cut emissions of other dangerous air pollution such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The rules are especially important in achieving environmental and climate justice, as historically disadvantaged communities continue to face the greatest exposure to pollution from the power sector.

Coal-fired and gas-fired power plants produce emissions that contribute to climate change, which is already negatively impacting the health of our communities. From increased air pollution to the spread of vector-borne disease to extreme weather, climate change is a major public health threat. EPA estimates that the rule will reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 1.38 billion metric tons through 2047, a key component in the nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

Cutting these dangerous air pollutants is vital for public health. EPA estimates that in 2035 alone, the rules will avoid 1,200 premature deaths; 870 hospital and emergency room visits; 1,900 cases of asthma onset; 360,000 cases of asthma symptoms; 48,000 school absence days; and 57,000 lost workdays and will achieve an estimated $370 billion in health and climate benefits between 2024-2047.

We also applaud EPA’s rule to strengthen the lifesaving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Increasing health protections for babies, children, pregnant people and other at-risk groups from toxic pollution is critical and these updated standards will build upon the proven successful track record on the MATS that have slashed emissions of toxic air pollutants, including mercury, particulate matter, arsenic and lead. Millions are breathing cleaner air because of these protections under the Clean Air Act. We thank EPA for further strengthening the filterable particulate matter standard, requiring stringent standards for lignite-fired power plants, one of the largest emitters of mercury, and requiring all coal-fired power plants to continuously monitor their emission to ensure compliance with the updated standards.

In addition to these key clean air and climate rules, EPA also issued important rules to strengthen wastewater discharge standards for power plants to prevent toxic pollution such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic and other pollutants from contaminating the nation’s waterways, as well as a new rule to prevent coal ash, the second largest source of industrial waste in the U.S., from polluting ground and surface water with dangerous heavy metals and toxics like mercury, arsenic and lead.

We thank President Biden, Administrator Regan and the entire EPA staff that worked to develop these important public health rules for their ongoing commitment to environmental justice and protecting the public’s health from the many environmental threats we face.


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The American Public Health Association champions optimal, equitable health and well-being for all. With our broad-based member community and 150-year perspective, we influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.