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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Carbon Rules Could Bring Economic and Health Benefits

PHOTO: Supporters of new limits on carbon pollution say significant health benefits will be the result. Detractors say the new rules on power plants will slow the economy. Both sides weigh in at EPA hearings this week. Photo credit: Analogue Kid / Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: Supporters of new limits on carbon pollution say significant health benefits will be the result. Detractors say the new rules on power plants will slow the economy. Both sides weigh in at EPA hearings this week. Photo credit: Analogue Kid / Wikimedia Commons.
July 29, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Environmental Protection agency (EPA) is taking public comments on new rules to cut carbon pollution from power plants by nearly one-third from 2005 levels. While supporters say the proposed regulations will save thousands of lives a year, critics say limits on carbon pollution will have a devastating economic impact.

Former EPA administrator Carol Browner dismisses arguments that new regulations for coal-fired power plants will harm the economy, and says a healthy environment actually makes the economy healthier. She cites one study that found clean air rules saved the U.S. about $1.3 trillion in 2010.

"We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. The two go together," Browner says. "The EPA proposal is a clear example of how you can find common sense, cost-effective ways to clean our air and protect the health of our communities."

Beginning Tuesday, the EPA will hold public hearings on the proposed new rules in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Comments can also be submitted via the EPA website through October 16th.

According to a Georgetown University nursing and health studies professor, people don't often realize how costly air pollution is. Laura Anderko says thousands die from the health effects of air pollution every year, and are often children or the elderly, or from poorer communities located downwind of smokestacks.

"People are sick and they can't go to work, or kids are sick and they can't go to school," says Anderko. "All of these E.R. visits from asthma attacks and hospitalizations cost a great deal of money."

Anderko says she often asks crowds how many of them know people with lung problems. "Every time I ask that question," says Anderko, "people raise their hand to show they know at least one person, whether it's a child, an elderly person, or themselves, that suffer from asthma or other cardio-respiratory diseases."

Many of the health benefits projected from reducing carbon pollution and burning less coal are incidental, but Anderko says climate change will increase heat and the amount of dangerous ozone in the air which people breathe. Reducing those conditions will mean fewer respiratory problems for vulnerable people.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO