CHARLOTTESVILLE – Today, Councilwoman Dede Smith, Dr. Greg Gelburd, Laura Kate Anderson with Environment Virginia, and Whitney Byrd with the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition joined together to celebrate the fifth “birthday” of Massachusetts vs. EPA , the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set public health standards for carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
The birthday party-themed event came just a week after the EPA proposed historic limits on industrial carbon pollution from new power plants on March 27. Coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of carbon pollution in the U.S., yet there are currently no federal limits on this pollution from power plants.
“On the fifth anniversary of Massachusetts vs. EPA, President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are standing up for Virginians’ health by setting the first ever standards on the largest source of carbon pollution that fuels global warming,” said Environment Virginia field organizer Laura Kate Anderson. “The EPA's new plan to protect our health and our environment is the perfect birthday present.”
The event today highlighted the importance of cleaning up carbon pollution to protect the health of Virginia’s children. Carbon pollution fuels global warming, which leads to poor air quality that triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. Doctors, nurses, scientists and other health experts say that carbon pollution and global warming are particularly dangerous for children because global warming makes smog pollution worse, which triggers asthma attacks and permanently damages and reduces the function of children’s lungs.
“I see children with asthma nearly every day who have flare-ups. While much of these episodes may come from allergies or colds the children are also suffering from, pollution is part of the mix, making everything worse,” said Dr. Gelburd, family physician with Downtown Family Health Care. “Ridding our air of more particulate matter and carbon dioxide will be a significant part of improving the health of all of us.”
“The Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition strongly supports the EPA’s work to reduce pollution from power plants, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the most recent Carbon Pollution Standard for new power plants,” said Whitney Byrd, who coordinates the coalition's work. “These rules are important safeguards for public health and the environment, as they are expected to reduce numbers of asthma attacks and premature deaths from air pollution, among countless other benefits.”
This week the Charlottesville City Council showed their support for the new carbon pollution standards by passing a resolution urging the EPA to fully utilize the Clean Air Act to clean up industrial carbon pollution. The resolution was introduced by Councilwoman Dede Smith.
“I applaud EPA for its new standards, which will help improve the air quality right here in Charlottesville as well in other parts of Virginia,” said Councilwoman Smith. “On too many days, people in the Charlottesville area are exposed to unhealthy air. For the sake of our children, we must make every day a safe day to breathe.”
The standards proposed last week will limit carbon pollution from new power plants. The EPA is also working to develop standards to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, and is expected to issue a draft proposal for existing plants later this year or early next year.
“We urge the EPA to continue its work cleaning up carbon pollution by finalizing standards for new power plants this year, and move forward with strong standards to address industrial carbon pollution from existing sources. This will protect our families' health and make sure that when it comes to clean air, we all have something to celebrate,” concluded Anderson.