Improved Air Quality in the Southeast for Pennies a Day

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 9, 2002
Contact:   Don Barger, NPCA Southeast Regional Director, 865-803-4480 (cell)


Improved Air Quality in the Southeast for Pennies a Day

Washington, D.C. - Reducing air pollution could cost Southeast residents only three pennies a day according to a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service. The agencies examined the monetary benefits and costs of implementing emissions-control strategies developed by the Southern Appalachian Mountains Initiative (SAMI) and found improved public health and visibility in national parks could be relatively inexpensive.

"For pennies a day, children could breathe easier and haze could be lifted in places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park," said Thomas Kiernan, National Parks Conservation Association president. "It's staggering to think such a small amount of money could significantly improve conditions in some of our most polluted national parks."

In their report, Impacts of the SAMI Strategies: An Independent Analysis of the Benefits and Economic Impacts, the three agencies estimate implementing the most stringent emissions-control strategy SAMI outlined would result in a $12-per-year increase in the electric bill of the average household, if all costs were passed on to consumers.

The most rigorous SAMI strategy would cut healthcare costs associated with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and cut agriculture loss from reduced tree growth. In their analysis of a strategy controlling only one pollutant—fine particulate matter (PM 2.5)—the agencies estimate 8,000 fewer premature deaths and 16,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis in children, with economic benefits ranging from $36 billion to $68 billion annually.

"The EPA report is good news for the 33 million people in the Southeast who live in counties with unhealthy, smoggy air," said Michael Shore, southeast air quality manager for Environmental Defense. "Cost can no longer be used as an excuse to avoid cutting pollution from power plants."

SAMI, a voluntary partnership created in 1992 to address regional air-pollution concerns, generated an assessment of some of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of air pollution ranging from visibility impairment to mortality rates. The state and federal government representatives, participants from industrial sectors, and environmental groups that compose SAMI worked to "remedy existing and prevent future adverse effects from human-induced air pollution" in national parks and wilderness areas in the Southeast.

"This report helps us understand that the benefits of a healthy environment almost always outweigh the initial costs," said Don Barger, Southeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

For an electronic copy of the report, please contact NPCA's Southeast regional office at 865-325-2424.

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