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Published: Tuesday, 7/12/2011

Clearing the air

THE do-gooders at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are at it again. Last week, the EPA adopted rules that will dramatically lower the amount of air pollution that can migrate across state lines from coal-fired power plants.

The do-gooders at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are at it again. Last week, the EPA adopted rules that will dramatically lower the amount of air pollution that can migrate across state lines from coal-fired power plants.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is the EPA's latest attempt to bring 27 states, mostly in the Midwest and on the East Coast, into compliance with 2006 standards for particulate pollution. Once this rule is adopted, pollution-linked mortality is expected to plummet in places where clean air still has a sizable constituency that yearns to breathe free.

Ohio will immediately benefit, because sulfur dioxide emissions and nitrogen oxide rates from neighboring states will be dramatically cut. According to the EPA, we can expect 73 percent and 54 percent reductions nationwide in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, respectively, starting next year.

The rule is expected to result in $120 billion to $280 billion in health and environmental benefits in 2014. For an $800 million annual investment, an estimated 240 million Americans will have an easier time breathing. As many as 34,000 premature deaths a year caused by air pollution can be avoided.

Every county in every one of the 27 states and the District of Columbia covered by the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will see dramatic health benefits resulting from lowered power plant emissions, once all are in compliance. It's laudable and necessary that the EPA is working to lower deaths caused by illnesses related to air pollution.



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