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Friday, June 14, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

TN groups monitoring soot pollution pleased by new EPA standards

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024   

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized stronger air quality standards for soot pollution and one regional organization said it is a step in the right direction.

Soot is fine particulate matter from power plants, vehicles and refineries, and the EPA revised its National Ambient Air Quality Standards for soot.

Willie Dodson, central Appalachian field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, said it reduces the maximum allowable amount of soot in the air from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to nine. He noted controlling pollution output in Tennessee would improve public health and save lives.

"High levels of soot is associated with asthma attacks, pulmonary and respiratory issues and hospital visits related to those issues, and premature death," Dodson outlined. "This hits Black and brown communities hardest. Black Americans, 65 and older, are three times as likely to die from exposure to elevated soot than white people of the same age."

The EPA said the plan reflects the latest health data and scientific evidence and the final rule goes into effect May 6. Opponents of the changes said the stricter standards could push factories to move overseas, costing American jobs and hurting the economy.

Dodson pointed out his organization, along with its community partners, launched the Upper South and Appalachia Citizen Air Monitoring Project last year. They distributed monitors to track particulate matter in the air, installed at homes and clinics. Dodson added in East Tennessee, they will be placed in areas near coal-fired power plants, hard rock mining sites and coal mining communities.

"We're working with Memphis Communities Against Pollution to try to put some air monitors in South Memphis, in neighborhoods that are impacted by the trucking of coal ash from the Allen Fossil Plant over to the Shelby landfill," Dodson emphasized.

Dodson added other community partners, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment and the Clearfork Community Institute, will be managing two air monitors in Tennessee to track pollution levels through the project.

Disclosure: Appalachian Voices contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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