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Health Benefits for Iowa with Clean Power Plan

The American Lung Association says reducing pollution from coal power plants will mean an improvement in public health. Credit: helt2.
The American Lung Association says reducing pollution from coal power plants will mean an improvement in public health. Credit: helt2.
August 10, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Clean Power Plan recently finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency aims to curb climate change pollution from older coal-power plants, but it will also help protect public health, according to the American Lung Association.

Assistant Vice President for National Policy Janice Nolen says reducing carbon emissions will improve air quality across Iowa, and the impact will be even greater for economically-disadvantaged communities, often located in areas around power plants.

"Some significant ones – the Louisa plant is one that comes to mind – are already sources that, because of their proximity to Davenport, for example, that's an area where having reduced pollution is going to help them, first and foremost," says Nolen, "in addition to helping the planet as a whole."

According to the American Lung Association, more than 40 percent of people nationwide live in counties where particle pollution or ozone levels make the air unhealthy to breathe.

There has been criticism of the Clean Power Plan on a number of fronts, including from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which argues low-income communities may not benefit.

Nolen says that view is off the mark.

"Under the plan as it's in place now, the requirements would be that we have to make sure we're not harming lower-income neighborhoods, which means for the first time they may actually get more cleanup than they would otherwise," she says.

The goal of the Clean Power Plan is to clear the air by reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants by about a third within the next 15 years.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA