AKRON — “When Congress approved and then renewed the Clean Air Act, it placed the priority on public health. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has the job of ensuring the law fulfills its purpose. Thus, armed with scientific studies and court rulings, the agency announced last week a new standard for soot pollution, ordering reductions in emissions from smokestacks, diesel engines and other sources of tiny particles.
These particles generate haze, and they pose a health hazard. The elderly and children are most vulnerable. The soot penetrates deeply into respiratory systems, triggering lung and heart conditions, often aggravating asthma. Studies link soot to roughly 15,000 premature deaths a year.
…More, the agency has set a reasonable deadline of 2020 for meeting the new standard. If the past is any indication, a fudge factor will come into play, allowing for additional flexibility. The important thing is, the agency has acted, establishing a standard with the law in mind, giving priority to public health. Soon enough, the air will be a significant measure cleaner, and the safe bet is, few will complain or want to reverse the result.”
— editorial, Akron Beacon Journal
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The EPA has a new rule that will force communities across the country to improve air quality by the end of the decade while making it harder for some industries to expand operations without strict pollution controls.
WASHINGTON, DC — “The Environmental Protection Agency will tighten the nation’s soot standardsby 20 percent Friday, a move that will force communities across the country to improve air quality by the end of the decade while making it harder for some industries to expand operations without strict pollution controls.
The new rule limits soot, or fine particulate matter, which stems from activities ranging from burning wood to vehicle emissions and causes disease by entering the lungs and bloodstream. Fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, ranks as the country’s most widespread deadly pollutant.
The new rule is a result of a 2009 court ruling that said the EPA standards for the amount of soot permissible in the air on an annual average ignored the advice of scientific advisers by maintaining the standard established in 1997 and must be rewritten. That limit was 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air.”
— Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
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WASHINGTON, DC — “The US Environmental Protection Agency on Friday asked a federal court to rehear its case for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule after a three-judge panel this summer issued a split decision vacating the regulation, which is aimed at cutting interstate emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The EPA is seeking a rehearing en banc that would involve eight judges serving on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
EPA, in its petition to the full court, said the three-judge panel’s decision against CSAPR was ‘inconsistent with circuit precedent’ in terms of the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to issue federal implementation plans to states to carry out the rule. ”
— Cathy Cash, Platts
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Dr. Erin Haynes
EAST LIVERPOOL — “A couple of years ago the EPA sent out a report known as the Ohio Air Toxics report that showed air manganese concentration in different areas across the state. Of all those areas, East Liverpool and the surrounding area had three of the highest levels in the state.
‘They were 30 times higher than the EPA reference concentration which was a big flag,’ said Erin Haynes, who is an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. ‘The next step was to find out are the particles getting into the children’s bodies.’
Manganese is a normal element you need when you eat, but it’s also used in a number of industries including, steel and battery manufacturing. When those industries emit it into the air it can become toxic and scientists are finding out that it has an effect on the brain. ”
— Ryan Eldredge, WTOV
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TOLEDO —”Ohio’s energy future must become a more prominent issue in this year’s political campaigns, given its role as a key swing state. Ohio also is a battleground for the nation’s energy-policy debate, considering its proximity to the Great Lakes.
The lakes get most of their pollution from toxic air releases that settle on the water. The EPA’s mercury rule is projected to bring down emissions of that dangerous neurotoxin by 79 percent from 2010 levels starting in 2015.
The Obama Administration, with help from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), has staved off an intense effort by Republican lawmakers to undo the mercury rule. But such misguided attempts at repeal are likely to continue.
Ohio’s future energy markets and public health, as well as the health of the Great Lakes region, will be greatly influenced by the outcome of this fall’s election. Ohio has made progress in reducing air pollution, but has far to go. State and federal policy makers should build on, not demolish, what’s already in place.”
— editorial, Toledo Blade
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Dr. Michael Blatt
TRIADELPHIA, WV — “During his 30 years practicing medicine in the Wheeling area, Dr. Michael Blatt has routinely treated patients for asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and other respiratory problems.
Blatt believes the natural gas drilling sites and compressor stations scattered throughout the region are going to contribute to more breathing problems in the Ohio Valley, especially for those living in the rural areas with nearby gas operations.
‘I have worked in this community for 30 years and I’m very cognizant of the respiratory disease issues that will be compounded by the addition of these emissions to the atmosphere,’ Blatt wrote recently in an objection letter to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regarding Chesapeake Energy’s permit application to emit several air pollutants from the Dytko well pad, located along Stone Church Road.”
— Casey Junkins, Wheeling News-Register
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WASHINGTON, DC — “Residents of Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania are exposed to more toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants than in any other state, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
At the same time, the report found a 19 percent decrease in all air toxics emitted from power plants in 2010, the most recent data available, compared to 2009 levels. The welcomed drop, which also includes a 4 percent decrease in mercury emissions, results from two key factors.
One is the increasing use by power companies of natural gas, which has become cheaper and is cleaner burning than coal; the other is the installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls by many plants–in anticipation of new health protections issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
— Elizabeth Heyd, press release, Natural Resources Defense Council
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WASHINGTON, DC — “The Democrat-controlled Senate defeated a bid Wednesday to block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting the first federal standards to reduce toxic air pollution from power plants.
Republicans were behind the effort, but they didn’t get enough votes to move ahead. It was the second time in this Congress that Senate Republicans failed to muster a majority to scrap an Obama administration rule aimed at curbing air pollution from primarily coal-fired power plants.
…The measure would have overturned a long-overdue regulation to slash mercury and other toxic emissions from the oldest and most polluting oil- and coal-fired power plants. Since 1990, the EPA has had that power, and in 2000 concluded that such action was necessary.”
— Dina Cappiello, Associated Press
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— Ben Geman and Daniel Strauss, The Hill
“Others haven’t prepared – because they have chosen to focus on profits rather than upgrading or investing in these smaller, older and less efficient coal-fired plants that were paid for decades ago and that they’ll tell you would be retired anyway. That’s right. Every single plant slated for closure in West Virginia was already on the chopping block from their own corporate boards within several years. It’s important to be truthful to miners that coal plants will close because of decisions made by corporate boards long ago – not just because of EPA regulations, but because the plants are no longer economical as utilities build low-emission natural gas plants.” — Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), during yesterday’s Senate debate on the mercury rule
— Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette
Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this victory. Ohio Citizen Action members sent 10,366 handwritten letters and petition signatures to Ohio’s U.S. Senators urging them to support these new pollution rules. 6,615 messages went to Senator Sherrod Brown, and 3,751 messages went to Senator Rob Portman. The two legislators split on the mercury rule, with Brown voting to uphold it, and Portman voting against.
— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action
WASHINGTON D.C. — ” Risking an election-year backlash from Republicans, the Obama administration is proposing new air quality standards to lower the amount of soot that can be released into the air.
The move by the Environmental Protection Agency won immediate support from environmental groups and public health advocates, who said the EPA was protecting millions of Americans at risk of soot-related asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart disease and premature death.
But congressional Republicans and industry officials called the proposal overly strict and said it could hurt economic growth and cause job losses in areas where pollution levels are determined to be too high. ”
— Matthew Daly, Bloomberg Businessweek
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ELYRIA — “Lake Erie receives the most mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants of the five Great Lakes, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental watchdog.
Coal-fired power plants are responsible for 50 percent of emissions of mercury — a toxic substance that can damage the brain, heart and lungs, and cause brain damage in children and fetuses — according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
With 2,865 pounds emitted per year, Ohio accounts for 21 percent of annual mercury emissions, the most of the eight Great Lakes states, according to the report, which relied on EPA statistics.
The report also said the Genon power plant in Avon Lake had the seventh-highest mercury emissions in Ohio. The 732-megawatt, coal-fired plant — the No. 1 air polluter in Lorain County in 2010 with 2.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gases emitted — has been slated for closure in 2015.”
— Evan Goodenow, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram
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Mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants in the Great Lakes region
WASHINGTON, DC — “Mercury emitted into the air from coal-fired power plants is by far the leading man-made source of mercury in the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams of the region. This new NRDC report analyzed pollution data to determine the top 25 mercury emitting power plants in the Great Lakes states, and the top three in each state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued nationwide standards to limit airborne mercury emissions and other toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants by 2015. Currently, not all states require that pollution controls be installed, including the report’s top three culprit’s: Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The report also highlights how a significant fraction of mercury and other air toxics emitted by the worst plants can be removed by air pollution controls already or soon to be installed at many power plants. Other technology that would achieve an overall reduction in mercury of 90 percent or more is readily available.”
— Natural Resources Defense Council
link to report
Local residents don’t want SunCoke near, but OK with less emissions
SunCoke began charging coal in 60 of their 100 ovens on October on Saturday, October 29, 2011.
MIDDLETOWN — “Stricter emission standards won’t stop SunCoke Energy Middletown from operating in their backyards, but members of a local environmental watchdog group said they will benefit local residents.
Last week, Monroe City Council voted on an ordinance that would agree to a settlement of the four-year legal battle it has had with SunCoke Energy Middletown Operations.
SunCoke Watch, the residential group that organized to oppose the company’s presence, and Natural Resources Defense Council are also part of that settlement agreement.”
— Michael D Pitman, Middletown Journal
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WASHINGTON, DC — “Breathing polluted air can harm your health and even shorten your life. State of the Air is a report card on air pollution in communities across the nation. The more you learn, the more you can protect your health and take steps to make our air cleaner and healthier.”
— American Lung Association Continue reading State of the air
COLUMBUS — “The study, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, claims air pollution from AEP’s coal-fired power plants is contributing to thousands of deaths and illnesses in states touched by the company’s emissions. Ohio is near the top of the sick list, trailing only Pennsylvania.
The study said AEP-generated pollution contributed to anywhere from 179 to 457 premature deaths in Ohio last year. It also allegedly was a factor in 2,800 asthma attacks, 315 emergency room and hospital admissions and 144,719 days of lost work or reduced activity by Ohio workers.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is among the many environmental groups pressing AEP and federal policy makers to do something about all the air pollution generated by the company’s coal-burning power plants. The council released the report on eve of AEP’s annual meeting Tuesday – the first at which Akins presided as CEO – and prior to his speech on energy prices and the U.S. economy slated for Thursday at a National Chamber Foundation event.”
— Jeff Bell, Columbus Business First
Continue reading Study claims AEP emissions responsible for thousands of deaths
NEW YORK, NY— “In his January State of the Union Address, President Obama committed to developing our nation’s abundant shale gas resources ‘without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.’ Taking a major step to fulfill that commitment, the Environmental Protection Agency is poised to set standards to begin controlling the dangerous air pollution that comes from natural gas wells – especially those that are hydraulically fractured (‘fracked’) – and from related oil and gas production facilities.
These important public health safeguards are now under final review by the White House Office of Management and Budget and must be issued by April 17th under a court-ordered deadline obtained by two western environmental groups, WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. NRDC has been working hard, along with partner organizations, for the strongest protections from the soup of dangerous air pollutants coming from these wells and associated oil and gas production operations. But the standards are under attack from the American Petroleum Institute and other powerful industry lobbyists.”
— David Doniger, NRDC Switchboard
Read the whole story: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ddoniger/separating_fracked_from_fictio.html