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February 26, 2024 8:18 am

Local News

Deadline Nears to Comment on Proposed NC Pollution Standards

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By Shanteya Hudson, Public News Service

Climate change is a pressing concern as the world deals with heat waves and poor air quality caused by recent wildfires.

To safeguard the health and well-being of North Carolinians, advocates are urging people to voice their opinions before next Tuesday, as the Environmental Protection Agency is set to consider new standards for coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, aiming to reduce harmful pollutants.

Kirsten Minor, health manager for the nonprofit CleanAIRE NC, emphasized the new regulations are about creating a safer environment for North Carolinians.

“Power-plant pollutants, which come from the burning of coal, natural gas and oil, are actually linked to nine of the 10 causes of death in North Carolina as a result of air pollution,” Minor outlined. “That does include cancer, heart disease, COVID-19 and stroke.”

She explained adopting the proposed standards in 2030 alone could prevent 13,000 premature deaths and more than 300,000 asthma attacks, and decrease emergency room visits, school and work absences.

The EPA’s proposed rules aim to reduce pollution and mitigate climate change through stricter carbon pollution standards for plants, based on their technology. The proposals could also lead to a decrease in harmful air pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Minor argued it is crucial as the pollutants disproportionately affect some communities.

“Most fossil-fuel power plants are actually located in low-income or BIPOC communities,” Minor pointed out. “Which is why it’s an environmental injustice issue those communities that live closest to that power plant are disproportionately impacted by these air pollutants.”

Minor added the proposal would also generate up to $85 billion in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades. One way people can submit their comments is by visiting CleanAIRNC.org.

Disclosure: CleanAIRE NC contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This article originally appeared in Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.