By Sierra Club
This year, the Obama Administration is finalizing the first ever safeguards to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants – The Clean Power Plan. The expected benefits range from extensive growth in the American clean energy economy to a huge step forward to tackle the climate crisis. And, according to a new study released May 4, the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) will also bring immediate health benefits if the standards included are as strong as possible.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, features analysis from Harvard, Boston, and Syracuse University researchers on the health benefits for three potential options for the CPP’s standards. The findings show that the strongest option prevents an expected 3,500 premature deaths per year and prevents over 1,000 hospitalizations and heart attacks caused by air pollution-related illness. Researchers also indicate that all states and communities will see better air quality with the strongest Clean Power Plan — with Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas showing the greatest health gains. However, weaker standards do not offer the same level of health benefits and could even have harmful health outcomes.
“The bottom line is, the more the standards promote cleaner fuels and energy efficiency, the greater the added health benefits,” said Dr. Charles Driscoll, lead author of the study and University Professor of Environmental Systems Engineering, Syracuse University. “We found that the greatest clean air and health benefits occur when stringent targets for carbon dioxide emissions are combined with compliance measures that promote demand-side energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources across the power sector.”
Under the strongest standards, the study indicates 45 states will cut smog pollution and 26 will cut particulate matter pollution.
The Sierra Club agrees that increased, robust standards are required to promote cleaner fuels and energy efficiency. That is why we support a strong and just Clean Power Plan. Evidence is mounting that the CPP will not just grow clean energy jobs and cut carbon pollution, but also help clean up our air and keep us healthy. Most importantly, it will put people before polluters by not allowing dirty power plants to dump unlimited amounts of carbon into our air. A strong and just Clean Power Plan will save lives, accelerate the growth of the clean energy economy, improve adverse environmental conditions in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, and help tackle the worst effects of climate disruption.