Governor Hogan Steps Back from Public’s Right to Breathe Clean Air
Contact: Tim Whitehouse, 240-246-4492, firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore, Maryland. January 22, 2015
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility is urging Governor Hogan to retract his decision to stop new rules designed to protect Maryland from nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution from coal-fired power plants. Nitrogen oxide pollution is an important precursor to ground level ozone pollution. Ground-level ozone is responsible for a host of adverse health effects, including triggering asthma attacks. Children are particularly susceptible to this harmful pollution.
Maryland was under a mandate to finalize these protections no later than July 2014. MDE’s proposed rule would require that coal-fired power plants with state-of-the art emissions controls for NOx operate those controls commensurate with historically demonstrated control efficiencies. It also gives units without state-of-the-art emission controls four years to modernize their controls.
“This rule would have resulted in fewer new cases of asthma in children, fewer heart attacks in adults, and fewer deaths from respiratory illness. It would have allowed those suffering from this pollution to breath a little easier," said Dr. Gwen Dubois, an internist at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, a member of the board of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and a member of the public health committee of The Maryland State Medical Society.
“Nitrogen oxide pollution from coal-fired power plants causes tremendous environmental and economic damage," said Dr. Sara Via, Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland. “Some nitrogen from this polluted air ends up in the Chesapeake Bay, where it is an even bigger cause of harmful algal blooms and oxygen-deprived aquatic zones than fertilizer or manure runoff. Nitrogen-caused ozone is also extremely damaging to plant growth, compromising both agriculture and forestry, which contribute billions to Maryland's economy each year."
Dr. Via adds, "We hope that Governor Hogan reverses his decision. These are important clean air protections that will improve the health of Marylanders and our environment, and they represent years of work and compromise by public health experts, industry groups and concerned residents of Maryland."
Dr. Stephanie Fowler, a health researcher and cancer prevention specialist, says, “It is unacceptable that one of Governor Hogan’s first acts as governor is to overturn a simple and cost-effective regulation that will protect the health of Marylanders. Nitrogen oxides cause serious health problems. Marylanders have the right to breathe clean air and not air that makes them sick and increases their risk of cancer.”
Currently, Maryland lags far behind other Eastern states in the prevalence of state-of-the-art pollution controls for ozone-forming pollutants from electricity generation. Poorly controlled power plants can emit such pollution at levels 10 times that of the best-controlled plants. Maryland currently ranks near the bottom of Eastern states in installation of these critical pollution controls, trailing even states like Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. At the same time, 85% of Maryland residents live in areas that are failing to achieve EPA’s health-based air quality standards for ozone.
"Governor Hogan sent the wrong signal on his first day in office. These new protections received wide-ranging support from public health and industry groups, including key stakeholder Raven Power, which operates electricity plants in Maryland,” says Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“The rules would help to modernize Maryland’s pollution controls, and will bring Maryland up to speed with the rest of the east coast states. Maryland should implement the kind of common sense safeguards that are more prevalent today in states like Alabama and West Virginia," adds Tim Whitehouse.
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
325 East 25th Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
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