Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Fighting Old-Fashioned Air Pollution

Action on climate change in the U.S. was stymied last year, at least on the national level. But while carbon emissions kept growing by a record amount, the Obama Administration has actually been quite effective in fighting traditional air pollutants: soot, ash, sulfur dioxide. The Environmental Protection Agency — led by TIME 100 awardee Lisa Jackson — laid down new rules for power plants and industrial facilities that will reduce smog and air pollution and improve public health.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club received a $50 million donation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fight coal plants. Coal is a major source of carbon, but it's proved easier to frame the case as fighting the other pollutants that come from the plants' smokestacks — the ones that directly hurt human health. It's a way to fight climate change without fighting climate change.