“This rule is designed to cut pollution that spreads hundreds of miles and has enormous negative impacts on millions of Americans,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. “We’re working to limit pollution at its source, rather than waiting for it to move across the country. The reductions we’re proposing will save billions in health costs, help increase American educational and economic productivity, and – most importantly – save lives.”
Curbing power plant emissions can have a large economic impact, with the cost to health and the environment from eastern power plants today exceeding $200 billion annually, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
The EPA says its action will save an estimated $120 billion in health benefits annually by 2014, including avoiding up to 36,000 premature deaths and 1.9 million days of missed work or school due to ground-level ozone and particle pollution, the agency estimates. Such benefits would far outweigh the annual cost of compliance with the proposed rule, which the agency puts at $2.8 billion in 2014.
"This will be one of the most significant steps EPA can take to clean up the air and improve public health," Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said in a statement. "This cleanup plan could literally prevent thousands of premature deaths each year and make it possible for tens of millions of others to breathe easier."