The Northeast faces two fundamental and intertwined challenges: fossil fuel dependence and pollution from fossil fuels. Our dependence on coal, oil, and gas imposes economic costs, pollutes our air and water, and harms public health. It also contributes to global warming, which threatens the future of our coastal cities with sea-level rise, the future of our beloved ecosystems with the loss of habitats and species, and the well-being of our people with extreme weather events and new threats to public health.
Dirty energy pollutes the air we breathe, threatening our health and our environment. When power plants burn coal, oil or gas, they create the ingredients for ground-level ozone pollution, one of the main components of “smog” pollution. Especially on hot summer days, across wide areas of the United States, ozone pollution reaches levels that are unhealthy to breathe, putting our lives at risk. In 2009, U.S. power plants emitted more than 1.9 million tons of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide pollution into the air. In order to better protect public health, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should issue a new air quality standard to reduce ground-level ozone pollution.
From Long Island Sound to the Great Lakes, Americans throughout the country depend on our waters for fishing, recreation and clean drinking water. These waters are the home to some of our most cherished wildlife, like orcas, blue crabs and bald eagles. American families from coast to coast travel to our great waters every summer to relax and enjoy some of nature’s wonders.
For decades, the Clean Water Act protected the Nation’s surface water bodies from unregulated pollution and rescued them from the crisis status they were in during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now these vital protections are being lost. This report details the threat to our Nation’s waters by examining dozens of case studies, and highlights the urgent need for Congress to restore full Clean Water Act protections to our waters.