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Health

Study finds New York would benefit from proposed new coal standards

CoalPlant-DukeEnergy.jpg
Duke Energy
/
via Flickr

New Yorkers could see health benefits from proposed standards for coal power plants, new research has found.

A vast majority of New York’s energy production comes from nuclear, hydro and natural gas, but the state is downwind from states that do burn a lot of coal, like Ohio, so that means the soot blows this way.

"So they influence our air quality. Even though we have relatively clean emissions, we receive a lot of air from this downwind areas," said Charles Driscoll, an environmental engineering professor at Syracuse University.

Driscoll was one of the researches that looked at the long-term health impacts of proposed new emissions regulations.

This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new emissions standards for coal-fired power plants. They would reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

New Yorkers would experience immediate benefits if the standards were enacted, Driscoll said.

"It will be virtually instantaneous," he said. "So once they’re implemented, air transport is very fast. And we would see benefits very quickly."

New York is also highly populated, Driscoll noted, so there are more people breathing that air. 

About 1,900 deaths due to respiratory problems for New Yorkers would be prevented in the first decade of the proposed rules, according to the research. There would also be 110 fewer heart attacks and 450 avoided hospital visits from 2020-2030. 

New standards on coal plants are often fought tooth-and-nail, since they can be costly for power plants to implement.