Strong carbon emission standards for power plants would improve air quality

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Curbing carbon pollution from U.S. power plants will help address both global climate change and reduce other air pollutants — including ozone, fine particulates, acid rain, and mercury pollution — that can harm people, forests, crops, lakes, fish, and wildlife, according to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Harvard Forest, and Syracuse University researchers.

The scientists released a study mapping potential environmental health benefits of power plant carbon standards. The report, issued May 27 at Syracuse University, coincided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement on June 2, proposing carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

“With a mix of stringency and flexibility, the new EPA rules have the potential to substantially reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants, which contribute to local and regional air pollution,” co-author Jonathan Buonocore, research fellow at HSPH’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, said in a statement.