07 Jul '11, 8pm

Clean Air, Mortality and Cost: A Thought Exercise

Philip Angell, an old hand at the Environmental Protection Agency, gave me a bit of advice when I became an environmental reporter some years ago. The E.P.A., he said, is a public health agency. Think of it that way. The wisdom and the limitations of that advice became clearer over time. Like the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for new drugs or state mandates for childhood vaccinations, the agency’s air pollution rules are intended to save lives. But the E.P.A. has a marketing problem, politically speaking. The lives it saves are a statistical construct. Individual tragedies have a political heft that statistical deaths can never match. So when the E.P.A. announced Thursday that it had given its final approval to a regulation cutting smokestack emissions from coal-burning power plants in 28 states, I wondered if it was possible to find a real-world equivalent to e...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/clean-air-morta...

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