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EPA Carbon Pollution Curb Meets Maine Approval

PHOTO: The Obama administrationís tough new requirements to limit carbon pollution from new power plants are being hailed in Maine.
PHOTO: The Obama administrationís tough new requirements to limit carbon pollution from new power plants are being hailed in Maine.
September 23, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine - Linking global warming to disease, extreme weather and other environmental problems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the first national limits on heat-trapping pollution from future power plants. The standard is stricter than one proposed a year ago.

Emily Figdor of Environment Maine Research & Policy Center welcomes it.

"Power plants are 'the elephant in the room' when it comes to global warming," she said, "and it gives me real hope that President Obama is really serious about tackling global warming and building a clean energy future."

The coal industry and some Republicans in Washington have protested that the action amounts to a ban on any new coal-fired power plants.

Emily Figdor said global warming is something she thinks Mainers are coming to grips with.

"We're seeing the impacts on our lobster fisheries, we're seeing the impact in terms of the increased Lyme Disease, we're seeing the impacts in terms of of more powerful storms and the devastation that can result in our communities," she said.

Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner pointed out that power plants account for about 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the U.S., so putting in place sensible, cost-effective requirements is very important.

"What's clear and what the science tells us is that if we continue to release these dangerous pollutants into the air, there are consequences," Browner said, "but the good news is there are steps we can take to reduce carbon pollution.

Curbing carbon pollution from power plants will have shorter-term benefits as well, Figdor said.

"These dirty power plants also emit disproportionate amounts of other harmful pollutants like mercury and smog and soot," she said, "and those pollutants have very immediate impacts on public health."

A separate standard for the existing fleet of power plants is due next summer.





Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME