Since 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has led the charge toward providing clean air protection, putting into place historic standards that will ultimately help save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma and heart attacks.
Last month, after Administrator Jackson announced that she would be leaving the Environmental Protection agency, President Barack Obama praised such actions made under her tenure:
Over the last four years, Lisa Jackson has shown an unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children. Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, including implementing the first national standard for harmful mercury pollution, taking important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act, and playing a key role in establishing historic fuel economy standards that will save the average American family thousands of dollars at the pump, while also slashing carbon pollution.”
EDF President Fred Krupp echoed similar sentiments in a recent statement:
It has been an honor to work with Lisa Jackson. During her tenure as EPA Administrator, America has taken strides toward cleaner air, a smaller carbon footprint and a healthier environment . . . Most importantly, EPA helped set a path for us to begin to meaningfully fight climate change by completing the Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding, and then started us down the path towards addressing greenhouse gases by proposing carbon pollution standards for new power plants.”
Since 2010, Texas Clean Air Matters has covered many of these historic EPA successes, giving praise where genuinely due. In “Court Upholds Historic EPA Actions, Rebukes Texas' Lawsuits To Undermine Health Protections,” for example, we wrote that the ruling “underscores what we have long known — that EPA’s climate protections are firmly grounded in science and law and will help secure a healthier, more prosperous future for all Americans.” In “Court Upholds Sulfur Dioxide Standards” we hailed an appellate court decision affirming EPA’s standards, designed to protect American families from harmful, short-term sulfur dioxide (SO2) exposure.
Just last month we praised EPA in “Houston Exceeds Health Standards for Particulate Matter: More Work Ahead” for releasing new soot standards, a move that will help secure healthy air for millions of Americans, including those in Houston where existing soot levels already exceed the new limits.
As Administrator Jackson departs, we wish to thank her for the enormous strides made toward improving America’s air quality under her leadership, and to issue a call for the next administrator to earnestly continue the admirable legacy that she leaves.
We leave you with a short list of EPA’s official* clean air milestones made during Administrator Jackson’s tenure:
- Finalizing Clean Air Standards for Industrial Boilers, Incinerators and Cement Kilns
In December 2012, EPA finalized changes in Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain incinerators, providing important public health protections. While providing flexibility to industry for implementation, the standards will avoid up to 8,100 premature deaths, prevent 5,100 heart attacks and avert 52,00 asthma attacks per year in 2015.
- Setting New Health-Based Standards for Fine Particle Pollution
In December 2012, EPA established the annual health standard for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), including soot, at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. Fine particle pollution can penetrate deep into the lungs and has been linked to a wide range of health effects, including premature deaths, heart attacks and strokes as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children.
- Establishing First-Ever Standards on Mercury and Air Toxics from Power Plants
In December 2011, EPA finalized the first national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants. These new standards will avert up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.
- Finalizing A Rule Helping States Reduce Air Pollution and Attain Clean Air Standards
In June 2011, EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which protects the health of millions of Americans by reducing power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states. The rule will help to prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 1.8 million lost workdays or school absences, and 400,000 aggravated asthma attacks. A federal court struck down this rule, but that decision is under appeal.
- Setting the Nation’s First SO2 Limits in Forty Years
Under Administrator Jackson, EPA strengthened the National Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide to better protect people’s health, especially those with asthma, children and the elderly. EPA estimates that meeting the new SO2 standard will prevent 2,300 to 5,900 premature deaths associated with exposure to fine particle pollution and 54,000 asthma attacks a year.
- Setting Historic Fuel Economy Standards
American families will save over $1.7 trillion at the pump – nearly $8,000 per vehicle, as a result of the Obama Administration's historic fuel efficiency standards and first ever greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks through model year 2025. The Administration’s actions will protect our environment while reducing America’s dependence on oil by an estimated 12 billion barrels, and, by 2025, reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day – enough to offset almost a quarter of the current level of our foreign oil imports. In addition, the Administration set the first ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for trucks and busses, which will save American businesses approximately $50 billion in fuel costs.
- Completing the Historic Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding
On December 7, 2009, the Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act that established that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) — in the atmosphere that threaten public health and welfare of current and future generations and that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare. These long-overdue findings cemented 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States Government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution.
*Source: Environmental Protection Agency