The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania extends our gratitude to Sen. Robert Casey for defending healthful air by voting against a dirty air resolution that would have given coal-fired power plant operators indefinite free rein to belch unchecked volumes of toxic pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, formaldehyde and acid gases into the air we breathe.
Toxic emissions can make breathing difficult and can worsen asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and other lung diseases. Some of them can cause neurological and developmental birth defects, and can damage the reproductive system and the immune system. Pollutants from coal-fired power plants can also cause heart attacks and strokes, lung cancer and other cancers and premature death.
As a result of the Senate's defeat of this extreme measure heavily favored by the coal industry, the mercury and air toxics standards can rightly move forward.
When fully implemented, these standards will prevent 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 childhood asthma attacks, and save up to 11,000 lives nationwide every year.
Many utilities have already taken much responsibility for controlling these emissions and can already meet these standards, but others have yet to do so, making the air dirtier for everyone. All power plants nationwide must be held accountable to the same standards that other industries have been held to for years.
The Senate's action not only helps ensure that controls of toxic air pollution from power plants will be put in place, but also supports regulatory certainty for the power industry going forward. Those outcomes will allow everyone to breathe a little easier.
Deb Brown, Camp Hill
American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic President and CEO