Jul 9, 2011

Clean Air, Mortality and Cost: A Thought Exercise

What is the price of lives in the U.S.? China?
We are at a point of choice... how will we choose?

AP - The Environmental Protection Agency listened to hours of public comment Tuesday on rules to curb emissions of mercury, arsenic, lead, nickel, chromium and acid gases from coal-fired plants. Testimony was mostly in favor of the regulations, which proponents said will reduce airborne toxins that contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.

Once airborne, mercury eventually settles in water, where it builds up in ocean and freshwater fish and can be highly toxic to people who eat them.

"Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic," said Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system."

Some industry groups accuse the EPA of inflating the benefits and underestimating the costs to comply with new pollution-control technology, which could force some coal-fired plants to shut down and cause electricity prices to rise.

NY Times - Studies indicate that the new Environmental Protection Agency rule expanding controls on coal-fired power plants would save up more lives than are lost on the highways annually.

Is that worth $1 billion a year? Read on at
NY Times