Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. – It's being hailed as a victory for the environment.
This week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on out-of-state pollution will mean less harmful emissions drifting into Pennsylvania.
Tom Schuster, the Sierra Club's Pennsylvania campaign representative, says the high court decision translates into healthier residents and saved lives in the commonwealth.
"In Pennsylvania specifically, up to 2,900 premature deaths will be prevented each year by this rule alone,” he stresses. “We have over 8 million people, which is two out of every three people in Pennsylvania, who live in areas that have currently unsafe levels of smog."
Late last year, Gov. Tom Corbett joined several other governors of Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to place stricter emission controls on Midwestern states with looser standards for coal-fired power plants and vehicle exhaust systems.
Critics of the Supreme Court decision say it allows the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to impose overreaching regulations that hurt American consumers and the economy.
Schuster maintains the problem of out-of-state pollution affects Pennsylvania from one end to the other.
"Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are in the worst 25 metro areas in the country for both smog and soot, which are forms of pollution that would be reduced by this rule," he points out.
Schuster says moving forward, Pennsylvania needs to take more concrete measures to control dangerous emissions being generated within its own borders.
"The Department of Environmental Protection recently released a draft plan for controlling smog-causing pollution with limits that are so lax for coal-fired power plants, that they wouldn’t require the plants to regularly operate at the pollution controls that they already have," he explains.
Schuster says the result is needless pollution inside Pennsylvania and in states downwind of it.