What middle-size cities offer: Clean Air

Air pollution continues to plague many large U.S. cities, where coal plants and tailpipe emissions poison the air with asthma-aggravating, cancer causing ozone and particle emissions. But the picture, and the air, is much clearer in Peoria, Springfield and a few dozen other mid-sized meccas, according to the American Lung Association’s annual report. See what the air rates where you live.

EPA issues new standards that will curb mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants

Public health advocates and environmentalists praised the Obama Administration for adopting standards for air pollution to reduce mercury and other toxics released mainly from power plants.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants, announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “are long overdue” and will help reduce the amounts of mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants that affect human health, American Lung Association leaders said.

“Since toxic air pollution from power plants can make people sick and cut lives short, the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are a huge victory for public health,” said Albert A. Rizzo, MD, National Volunteer Chair of the American Lung Association, and pulmonary and critical care physician in Newark, Delaware. “The Lung Association expects all oil and coal-fired power plants to act now to protect all Americans, especially our children, from the health risks imposed by these dangerous air pollutants.”

Anti-idling campaign targets schools, children’s health

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The Earth Day Network, the Clean Air Campaign and UPS have launched a campaign that challenges an American tradition – idling your car outside the neighborhood school while waiting to scoop up the munchkins.

The groups are targeting active idlers because the practice needlessly pollutes the air, contributing to global warming and aggravating kids’ respiratory health issues.

Beijing Treated Olympians To Clearer Skies; Can It Continue The Legacy?

By Diane Porter

There are already undeniable legacies of the 2008 Olympic Games: eight gold medals hanging around U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps’ neck, for instance, or the otherworldly sprint that helped Jamaican runner Usain Bolt break Michael Johnson’s record in the men’s 100 meter race. There are visual reminders, as well; the Olympic pavilions, Bird’s Nest and Water Cube will remain a part of central Beijing life for decades.

Perhaps the most crucial legacy, however, is yet to be played out. As hotels empty, athletes and television crews return to their home countries, and Beijing goes back to a life more sheltered from the world, the lingering question is this: Will the enormous and by most accounts successful efforts to reduce the city’s pollution during the Olympic games continue in some fashion, improving life for those who live there and reducing the city’s footprint on the global environment?

“Beijing will be built into a livable city,” said Du Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau in a press conference the day before closing ceremonies.