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Cutting Down Carbon Emissions From US Power Plants Could Save 3,500 Annually

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An average of 3,500 lives, a range of 780 to 6,100 citizens, could be saved if the Obama Administration implements a plan that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power plants in the country, according to researchers.

A research study has identified how the changes in air pollutants affects public health as the government reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists from Syracuse and Harvard Universities have measured a reduction of cases in lung disease and heart attacks in which smoke and pollution was reduced due to the current administration's proposal to combat global warming by regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

Previous research revealed that between 20,000 and 30,000 Americans pass away annually due to health problems associated with power plant air pollution, according to scientists and outside experts. A paper on the topic was published last Monday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

The proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule, which is still in its finalization stage, is being tailored to cater each state's conditions. Carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by 30 percent by 2030 if all goes well. An independent study from the Obama plan has comparable results, and, based on their simulations, the planned reduction of soot and smog will result in almost the same number of lives saved that the government claims.

Laboratory studies on animals illustrated how smog and soot damage the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and epidemiological research associates thousands of deaths annually to air pollution, says study co-author Joel Schwartz, a Harvard environmental epidemiologist. The authors of the study used computer models to project and track the emissions of 2,417 identified power plants.

Cleaning the air as part of controlling carbon dioxide emissions has noticeable and immediate benefits, the authors concluded.

There are hot debates regarding this proposal as some congressmen filed appeals to stop the regulation from taking effect. According to them, this is a clear example of government overreach and they claim the plan would simultaneously lay off many power plant workers. Officials in the energy industry could not agree more and concluded that the plan is ultimately costly and flawed.

"This is more than just an academic exercise to the tens of millions of Americans who depend on affordable, reliable electricity to power their homes and places of work every day. For them, this is about their livelihoods," said Laura Sheehan, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity's senior vice president.

The Obama administration should apply all necessary data and feedback to come up with a win-win situation before it finalizes its environmental-friendly proposal.

Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources | Flickr

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