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National Standard To Be Set on Deadly Soot

National Standard To Be Set on Deadly Soot

It’s not rocket science — we all know how dangerous coal-fired power plants are.  For decades, Americans have been breathing in noxious chemicals from these plants that led to tens of thousands of premature deaths a year, deaths that could otherwise have been avoided by breathing cleaner air.

Today, however, there’s good news.  Coal-fired power plants are on the decline, mainly due to an increase in natural gas production (another story) and just recently, the EPA announced it would increase regulation of soot, a common by-product of coal-fired power plants, factories and diesel vehicles, in an effort to decrease the number of health-related cases associated with this notorious pollutant.  Soot is a fine mixture of particles that penetrates into the lungs, causing asthma as well as heart attacks.  According to Earthjustice, “Because so many of us are exposed to elevated levels of particle pollution, it’s hard to find a deadlier air pollutant than soot.”

Paul Cort, the Earthjustice attorney who fought on behalf of concerned citizen groups, compelled a federal judge to rule in favor of stronger soot regulation.  This same judge subsequently ordered the EPA to immediately release a proposal indicating how the agency would increase regulation and thereby decrease pollution. The final EPA standard is due on December 14, 2012 and the public comment period opens in a few weeks.

This is an important move in the right decision, both for our environment and for our health, and is a direct result of collective and organized citizen action, which appears to be the best way to get policy-maker attention, particularly when energy companies have such a solid grip on how business is run in Washington, DC and locally.

Nonetheless, the EPA will surely face an uphill battle against the coal lobby who, like other energy giants, will stop at nothing to maintain their profit margin. Still, the numbers don’t lie: “…a truly strong soot standard could prevent nearly 36,000 premature deaths every year.”  Let’s hope Washington gets the message.  After all, a proposal that saves lives is worth paying attention to.

Related Stories:

Big Coal Gets Desperate, Begs Customers to Complain to EPA

Coal Ash Dumps Across the Nation are Looking to Expand

Wildlife is Footing the Bill For Our Oil and Coal Addiction

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Photo Credit: JW Randolph

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15 comments

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5:39AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:21PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

hopefully it's enough

3:04PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Why don't we pass laws requiring the people with the 10% highest pay at power plants to live downwind of them, wherever the most pollution reaches the ground? And for coal mining companies, require the 10% of the highest paid people there to live downstream of them, wherever the most pollution is in the water? They should also be required to buy a certain percentage of their diets from farms in those areas. Make sure that any profits from owning those companies are counted as part of the pay.

1:48PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Coal power plants are fully aware of what they have been doing. It is the god of profit who rules them. As I have written before, why don't they invest in some research and development and find ways to recycle their soot and turn it into something useful and harmless? I'm sure that the chemical elements in soot can be made useful in some other way.

1:48PM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Coal power plants are fully aware of what they have been doing. It is the god of profit who rules them. As I have written before, why don't they invest in some research and development and find ways to recycle their soot and turn it into something useful and harmless? I'm sure that the chemical elements in soot can be made useful in some other way.

1:07PM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

Republicans and other cons seem to be against anything good. Weird.

9:02AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

I live in northcentral Pennsylvania where there is lots of soot in the air from coal-fired power plants, and I welcome the EPA regulations reducing it.

I also hate getting behind diesel trucks and breathing C-60 Buckyballs filtering them out of the air with my lungs. I wish those dirty diesels would go the way of the dinosaurs.

8:35AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

Whatever happed to the controls that Clinton put in place to regulate such things? I suppose if that law had been enforced the air would be cleaner by now, but guess the EPA forgot to do that so now they just shut down the plants with no thought of how those people will now make a living but hey, they can just enroll in the entitlement programs and the other wage earners can pay the hight prices for electricity and to take care of the new "needies" are we are all so wealthy.

You know who is getting wealthy from all this? The green companies that either abscond with government funds by going bankrupt or take it and can not produce the needed energy to replace the factories - we have a new kind of greedy corporate giant all in the name of saving the people of the earth. God I wish Carlin were still here to put this in perspective for the left.

7:57AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

let us know when there is a petation or something to add during the comment period

6:58AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

You could never be to hard on these company's-look what they are doing to us.

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