The Promise of the Green Economy

We can protect our children's health and put Americans back to work.

The EPA is expected to release a new baseline today limiting the amount of mercury and other toxics that coal-powered plants can spew into our communities. The new rules will not only keep us healthier they will also create jobs. The Economic Policy Institute puts the number of net jobs likely created from this ruling at between 28,000 and 158,000. Building the scrubbers and improved power plant systems has to be done by someone.

This is the promise of the green economy.

Every year, Americans suffer almost 11 million asthma attacks, with people living in poverty affected more than any other group. One in six black children have asthma today -- compared to one-in-ten children overall. We can change this and improve our economy.

Asthma is a horrible affliction, leaving you gasping for air -- drowning, basically, while sitting on your couch or working at your desk. The good news is a huge percentage of these cases are preventable because we know what is making many of these Americans sick. Pollution and the particles from coal-fired power plants that get into our air and water are to blame.

This EPA ruling, based on years of studies, will make us healthier and put people back to work.

Since the EPA announced preliminary rules limiting mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants in March, over 13,000 Americans have died prematurely because of this pollution. We've missed 650,000 days of work. And children have suffered over 84,000 preventable asthma attacks.

The asthma attacks caused by coal-powered plants are pretty easy to see. The damage done from other coal plant pollutants are far more nefarious and unseen. Mercury, a highly toxic pollutant that is a side product of burning coal in a power plant, has been linked to mental retardation, seizures, blindness and death. It's particularly harmful to unborn babies, and can cause irreversible impairments.

This new ruling will make sure thousands of people do not have to suffer from these afflictions and put thousands more back to work retrofitting the plants. But, this doesn't mean that coal companies and their allies are not going to fight this ruling.

Pollution exists because it's easier and cheaper for polluters to dump waste into the environment than to clean it up. It's often even easier to pay fines for polluting than it is to not pollute in the first place. A lot of pollution we can see. Air pollution, though, is usually invisible -- which makes it that much easier to just pollute.

Big Coal and the power companies they fuel understand that their business model is unsustainable, and many have already taken steps to retrofit their plants. We need more to step up and embrace regulations that will create thousands of jobs and clean up our air and water.

Let's put people to work -- and keep them on the job. The EPA's proposed baselines on power plant pollution make sense. Join the fight to improve our environment and our economy.