Strong carbon emission standards for power plants would improve air quality

Curbing carbon pollution from U.S. power plants will help address both global climate change and reduce other air pollutants – including ozone, fine particulates, acid rain, and mercury pollution – that can harm people, forests, crops, lakes, fish, and wildlife, according to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Harvard Forest, and Syracuse University researchers.

The scientists released a study mapping potential environmental health benefits of power plant carbon standards. The report, issued May 27, 2014 at Syracuse University, coincided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement on June 2, 2014 proposing carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

“With a mix of stringency and flexibility, the new EPA rules have the potential to substantially reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants, which contribute to local and regional air pollution,” co-author Jonathan Buonocore, research fellow at HSPH’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, said in a statement.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of most abundant greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a major driver of human-accelerated global climate change. Fossil-fuel-fired power plants are the single largest source of manmade CO2 emissions in the nation, emitting about 2.2 billion tons annually, or 40% of U.S. CO2 emissions.

Read the study: Co-benefits of Carbon Standards: Air Pollution Changes under Different 111d Options for Existing Power Plants

Read the press release: Rules to Cut Carbon Emissions Also Reduce Air Pollution Harmful to People and the Environment

Read more: Carbon Co-Benefits Research

Learn more

Read Washington Post article: Everything you need to know about the EPA’s proposed rule on coal plants

Read a New York Times blog: Rhetoric and Realities Around Obama’s ‘Carbon Pollution’ Power Plant Rules

Rising CO2 poses significant threat to human nutrition (HSPH press release)