EPA’s Clean Power Plan will help 800,000 Mainers breath easier

EPA’s Clean Power Plan will help 800,000 Mainers breath easier

The air is often dangerous to breathe for 44 percent of Americans, according to a new report – and for Mainers who live in what’s known as the tailpipe of the nation, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan should bring major improvements.

Michael Seilback, vice president of public policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast, says the new 32 percent cap on carbon emissions from power plants is expected to mean shutdowns of some of the oldest and dirtiest plants in the Midwest.

And since that pollution migrates on air currents to Maine, he says the changes should mean improvements in local air quality.

“While air quality has been moving in the right direction, far too many communities in Maine still are breathing unhealthy air,” he points out. “Our State of the Air Report gave York County, for example, an ‘F.'”

The American Lung Association compiles the annual State of the Air report and says nationwide, the Clean Power Plan is expected to have the greatest impact on economically disadvantaged communities that often are located near power plants. Only a handful of coal-fired plants remain in operation in New England.

But the Clean Power Plan is getting sharp criticism, including from the National Black Chamber of Commerce. It says the pollution standards will be “especially severe” for African Americans and Hispanics, destroying jobs and increasing the cost of electricity and natural gas.

Janice Nolen, the American Lung Association’s assistant vice president of national policy, counters that the Clean Power Plan was designed to address those very concerns.

“Under the plan as it’s in place now, the requirements would be that we have to make sure that we’re not harming these people, which means that for the first time, they may actually get more cleanup than they would otherwise,” she points out.

Seilbeck adds low-income communities and vulnerable populations should benefit from reduced medical costs as the plan improves overall air quality in New England.

“The Clean Power Plan is going to reduce pollution from power plants by close to 90 percent, and that’s going to mean – for the elderly, for youth, and certainly for people that have heart and lung issues – it’s going to mean less trips to the hospital,” he stresses.

The State of the Air report says at least 800,000 Maine residents should see improved health under the plan.

Photo via Flickr/Billy Wilson

Comments

You might also like

war and peace

Sen. King calls out Republicans for playing politics on Iran deal

Calling it “a vote that entails risks of war and peace, of life and death” Maine Senator Angus King spoke from the Senate floor today to ask his colleagues to

fair taxes

Mainers say Sen. Collins must finally take a stand on health care repeal

Holding signs declaring “Time to take a stand,” advocates for access to health care gathered outside Senator Susan Collins’ regional office in Bangor on Thursday to ask the senator to

Susan Collins

Federal health care repeal would affect tens of thousands in Maine

“The Affordable Care Act is the only reason I have health insurance, and I’m not alone,” said Katherine Record, a single mother living in Bangor. “For thousands of Mainers, this