Friday, December 21, 2012

EPA Updating Air Pollution Controls

The EPA has released new regulations on air pollution controls for soot and particulate matter and for industrial boilers and incinerators over the past week.  Reactions by representatives on both side of the debate, specifically environmentalists and industry, are not entirely happy, which generally indicates that the new rules struck a successful balance between the two sides.

The particulate matter regulation sets a new annual standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air, down from 15, which was set in 1997.  The new standard will be implemented by 2020 and will especially affect utilities burning coal.  The rules on boiler emissions are the first of their kind and impose limits for mercury, acid gasses and fine particulate matter.

The new rules will add costs for entities using older equipment with inadequate pollution controls, so expect to hear lots of complaining about "government overreach."  But lest we forget, pollution is a human-generated problem, and by taking no action, we effectively subsidize companies to create a dangerous public health problem for which millions of people suffer.  Anyone who knows an asthmatic or someone with lung disease understands the negative impacts of particulate pollution and should appreciate these actions.

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