New Mexicans Can “Breathe A Little Easier” Thanks to EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard

Local Groups and Citizens Express Support for New Safeguards that Will Hold Industrial Polluters Accountable and Help Protect New Mexico Communities’ Health

Environment New Mexico

Albuquerque, New MexicoToday, New Mexicans are breathing a little easier after the Environmental Protection Agency’s and Obama Administration’s release of a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, which is essential to improve public health. Local organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility of New Mexico, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light, Sierra Club, and Environment New Mexico applauded the new standards.

“Every year, coal-fired power plants dump more than two billion tons of dangerous carbon pollution and other pollutants into the air,” said Dr. Robert Bernstein with Physicians for Social Responsibility of New Mexico.  “This new standard announced by the Obama Administration and the EPA will establish the first national limits on carbon pollution from new power plants and move our nation a much-needed step forward toward protecting public health from the harmful effects of climate change.  Doctors, nurses, scientists and other health experts say that carbon pollution is particularly dangerous for children because it makes smog pollution worse, which triggers asthma attacks and permanently damages and reduces the function of children’s lungs.”

New Mexicans are showing their support for the new carbon rules, saying the EPA is doing its job under the Clean Air Act – and holding power plants accountable for the amount of pollution they spew into the air.  The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board recently repealed two plans that would have required statewide carbon polluters, including major stationary sources like coal-fired power plants and oil and gas refineries, to reduce emissions beginning in 2012 and 2013.  The Public Service Co. of New Mexico, (PNM), the largest electric utility in the state, oil and gas associations, and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez lobbied against the common-sense state carbon pollution limits.

“The EPA and Obama Administration stood up to the big polluters like PNM and opposed their efforts to block clean air standards,” said Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club in New Mexico. “Our public leaders would be wise to remember not to put corporate polluters’ profits ahead of our kids’ health and know that New Mexico families want the EPA to protect us from dangerous air pollution from power plants.”

In addition to strictly limiting carbon pollution and protecting public health, many say these new standards will also spark innovation in clean technologies and create green jobs here in America.

“Like the EPA and Obama Administration’s clean car standards that will cut carbon pollution from new vehicles nearly in half by 2025 while at the same time helping rebuild the American auto industry, standards for new and existing power plants will likely spur innovation and create jobs,” said Mark Westbrock of Positive Energy, a New Mexico solar installation company. “The new technologies necessary to make significant reductions in harmful carbon pollution will encourage innovation in the power sector leading to clean technology manufacturing jobs.”

The standards announced today 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 early next year.

New Mexico is home to two of the nation’s oldest and largest coal-fired power plants, the San Juan Generating Station and Four Corners Power Plant. Both coal plants rank in the Top 50 for carbon pollution, together emitting over 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“We also applaud Administrator Jackson for continuing to work with scientists, economists and public health officials on a process for addressing carbon pollution from existing power plants. The health and safety of current and future generations depends on us tackling this problem,” said Sanders Moore with Environment New Mexico.