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EPA’s new rule to cut downwind pollution from power plants impacts Mountain West states

Two tall columns stick up from a power plant with gray clouds overhead
Jimmy Emerson
Flickr Creative Commons
PacifiCorp’s coal-fired Huntington power plant in Utah. According to the EPA, smokestack emissions from power plants and factories in Nevada and Utah blow east into Colorado.

Smokestack emissions from power plants and factories in Nevada and Utah blow east into Colorado, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the same time, air pollution from industrial facilities in California travels to Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, among other states.

The EPA’s new “good neighbor” rule forces facilities to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide. The pollutant causes smog and is linked to a wide range of health problems, including asthma, lung disease and premature death.

Paul Billings, national senior vice president of public policy at the American Lung Association, said this is a crucial move to help communities breathe cleaner air.

“Cutting ozone pollution is really important to protect the health of everyone, particularly those that are most vulnerable,” Billings said. “This rule will really help to address that pollution that’s causing this harm.”

The new regulations will take effect later this year for power plants and in 2026 for factories. The EPA estimates by 2027, these changes will cut emissions of nitrogen oxide in affected states to 50% of their 2021 levels.

Moreover, the agency predicts it will prevent 1,300 premature deaths and 1.3 million cases of asthma. It’s also expected to avoid more than 2,300 hospital visits, 430,000 lost school days and 25,000 missed work days.

Idaho and Wyoming are not considerably affected by interstate pollution.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.
Copyright 2023 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.

Kaleb Roedel
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