advisory committees,36 environmental and industry stakeholders,37 and private research institutes.38

Much progress has been made in mitigating or eliminating impacts of fossil-fuel development and use, but environmental damage remains, including that caused by emissions from older power plants that have yet to be fully controlled. Airborne particulates are due, in part, to emissions from coal-powered power plants of gaseous SO2, which forms into particulates downwind of an SO2-emitting stack. As a result of such emissions and those from vehicles, industry, and other sources, there are still 208 counties in the United States that by December 2008 had not attained EPA limits on PM2.5 particulate air pollution (www.epa.gov/air/data/nonat.html?us~USA~United%20States). The number may fall to 52 by 2015, according to EPA modeling, with most of the residual regions in California.39 However, even should the number of non-attainment counties shrink to zero, it would not necessarily mean that all health effects and annoyances will be eliminated because there is always debate about the proper standard. The EPA chose a PM2.5 standard in 2006 that was higher than the level recommended by its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, although still within the advisory committee’s range (Stokstad, 2006). The American Lung Association cites analysts who estimate that many thousands of premature deaths can be statistically related to pollution from particulates (ALA, 2009; Stokstad, 2006).

36

Examples include the National Laboratories’ website (www.energy.gov/organization/labstechcenters.htm) and the reports of the National Petroleum Council, which advises the Secretary of Energy (www.npc.org/).

37

Examples include the environment briefs of EPRI (mydocs.epri.com/docs/public/000000000001016774.pdf); the reports of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on coal power (www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/); the reports and overviews of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (www.nrdc.org/energy/); and the issue briefs of the National Mining Association (www.nma.org/issues/environment/default.asp), as well as other industry trade groups and environmental organizations.

38

Examples include Resources for the Future (RFF) (www.rff.org/focus_areas/Pages/Energy_and_Climate.aspx); World Resources Institute (WRI) (www.wri.org/publications/climate); Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org/taxonomy/term/40); the Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org/Research/EnergyandEnvironment/index.cfm); and the National Academies (www.national-academies.org).

39

By 2015, the EPA projected the number of non-attainment counties to fall to 52 for PM2.5 (epa.gov/pm/pdfs/20061025_graphsmaps.pdf) under its Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) program, which has now been overturned for application in Minnesota by the judiciary. The rule was considered too lenient (Science 321(5890; August 8):756-757, 2008). The EPA is reconsidering the application of the rule elsewhere (www.epa.gov/cair/pdfs/20090114fs.pdf).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement