Earth Day Caps Landmark Year of Progress Toward Clean Air

Environment Virginia

This Earth Day, Environment Virginia applauded a year of new clean air protections from the Obama administration that represented major steps forward for public health and our environment. From new standards to protect children from mercury to proposed cuts in industrial carbon pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has had a landmark year in curbing dangerous air pollution. 

“Clean air is fundamental to a clean environment and a clean bill of health,” said Laura Kate Anderson, field organizer with Environment Virginia. “We applaud EPA for its past year of lifesaving work to keep toxic mercury, cancer-causing chemicals, smog- and soot-forming pollution, and dangerous carbon pollution out of our air and our bodies.” 

In the year since Earth Day 2011, EPA has proposed or finalized several new rules that directly impact Virginians’ health and environment:

  • On April 18, 2012, EPA finalized new standards to curb dangerous air pollution, like cancer-causing benzene, toxic chemicals, and smog-forming pollution, from gas drilling operations.
  • On March 27, 2012, EPA proposed historic new limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. Carbon pollution fuels global warming, leading to smoggier days and more asthma attacks. This proposal is a major step forward for public health, particularly for Virginia’s 200,000 children who have been diagnosed with asthma.
  • On December 21, 2011, EPA finalized the first-ever nationwide standard for mercury and air toxics pollution from power plants, cutting power plants’ mercury emissions by 90%. This standard is expected to prevent up to 130,000 cases of childhood asthma and save up to 11,000 lives across the country every year.
  • On July 7, 2011, EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which once implemented will cut deadly smog- and soot-forming in the eastern half of the U.S. Air pollution isn’t limited by state boundaries, so this rule will help protect Virginians from the pollution that blows in from other states. 

“This Earth Day, we have the chance to reflect on a year’s worth of progress toward cleaner air and healthier kids in Virginia,” said Anderson. “We applaud the Obama administration and EPA for its work, and we call on them to finalize the proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants and move forward with carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Then, next Earth Day, we’ll have even more to celebrate.”