The U.S. Environmental Protection agency predicts that its stringent new rules for power plant emissions will prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children and up to 3,300 heart attacks by the year 2030.
“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in unveiling the proposed Clean Power Plan on June 2, 2014. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change.”
The proposed federal regulations target power plants – since they are the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. They would be required cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.
The ambitious new plan is not yet final. Despite lengthy negotiations before the EPA announcement, it remains controversial in coal-producing states, since 38 percent of U.S. electricity is still generated by coal-fired plants. The plan does, however, also present states with flexible and detailed options to achieve emission targets.
The EPA will accept comments on the rule for 120 days, and there will be public meetings in four major U.S. cities. The EPA expects to finalize the standards by June 2015.
Particle pollution, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide are also expected to be cut by 25 percent as a related benefit of the plan. The EPA claims this will result in $93 billion in climate and public health benefits, and shrink electricity bills by approximately 8 percent.
Recently, the EPA also unveiled new rules for vehicle tailpipe emissions and fuel sulfur levels, all as part of a plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve air quality.
Asthma can be aggravated by air pollution, and some research has found that certain types of air pollution may even bring on new cases of asthma.