The Environmental Protection Agency has been championing its new Clean Power Plan across the country, and thousands have supported its cause. Public hearings commenced in Washington, D.C., Denver, and Atlanta on Tuesday.
The Clean Power Plan is the first effort of its kind to place direct limits on existing plants’ carbon pollution.
A statement on the EPA’s website reads, “the Clean Power Plan will maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment now and for future generations.”
Holding the final hearing in Pittsburgh is apropos, as the city has had its fair share of pollution woes throughout history. Due to its industrial legacy, the American Lung Association designated Pittsburgh the most air-polluted U.S. city in May 2008.
The Sierra Club, an environmental association championing the Clean Power Plan, launched a radio advertisement in the Pittsburgh region this week. It called on the city’s residents to support the plan, citing that carbon emissions cause major health risks.
“Every summer more than 53,000 children in the Pittsburgh region suffering from asthma are told to stay inside on bad air days because playing outside is a risk to their health. Summer is especially difficult for these kids and other vulnerable people — including seniors and people with respiratory disease — because the hotter temperatures lead to more smog, one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution,” commented Kim Teplitzky of the Sierra Club Media Team.
The excess of carbon emissions stems from one source, according to the Sierra Club.
Coal-fired power plants abound in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and are one of the primary producers of nitrogen oxides, soot, and carbon pollution.
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the resulting carbon pollution from coal combustion creates increased amounts of smog, which triggers asthma attacks.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity issued a press release challenging the validity of the Sierra Club’s allegations. Claiming that carbon pollution has no direct, tangible impact on public health, the Coalition maintains that many steps are being taken to reduce carbon emissions.
On its website, the group lists 16 technologies used to reduce the number of emissions from power plants by 90 percent to 99.9 percent. Carbon capture and storage is one particular method that captures carbon dioxide before its release into the air to permanently store it underground in geological formations. This technology is still in the developmental stages, however it could impact the design of future power plants.
Yet, the Sierra Club is not optimistic that the coal industry will take environmental concerns seriously. They maintain that the Clean Power Plan is a step in the right direction, one that will ensure cleaner air for future Pittsburgh citizens, and residents of the nation as a whole.