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Survey: New EPA Rules Offer Breath of Fresh Air to PA

April 4, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The new, tougher standards for carbon pollution from coal power plants announced by the Environmental Protection Agency are getting strong public support in a new bipartisan survey, and health experts say those stricter rules also may offer key protections to unborn children in Pennsylvania.

The survey was commissioned by the American Lung Association, whose assistant vice president, Peter Iwanowicz, says it shows that more than seven of 10 respondents support the EPA action.

"The fight against carbon pollution has just begun. The EPA has taken this step to address carbon pollution from power plants but, as we saw in our poll, the public expects the EPA to do more when it comes to dealing with power-plant emissions and other pollution problems."

Judy Focareta, a maternal-child nurse in Pittsburgh, says expectant mothers and their unborn babies are especially susceptible to environmental factors which may be better kept in check under the new regulations.

"I think one of the effects that's broadly seen is the increased rate in premature births that is related to poor air quality and increased emissions."

Besides benefits to the unborn, doctors, nurses and scientists say carbon pollution is dangerous for children in general. It raises air temperatures, which worsens the smog pollution which triggers asthma attacks and can permanently reduce lung function in some children.

Focareta applauds the EPA limits and is hopeful the effort will pay off in Pennsylvania.

"While other states have improved their air quality and conversely reduced their premature-birth rates, we have not been able to move that here."

Opponents claim the new regulations will mean higher prices for electricity and may deal a crushing blow to the coal industry. However, the survey found a 2-to-1 majority believes these first-ever limits actually will create jobs rather than destroy them, by encouraging innovation.

Survey results are online at

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA