The Obama administration has announced an aggressive new campaign to combat air pollution in the US, launching a series of air purifiers and a new $100 billion pollution prevention initiative aimed at keeping the country out of the “dead zone” that scientists say can be deadly.
But the campaign also may leave Americans with an expensive new pollutant problem to deal with.
The Obama administration’s plan for the 2020s includes an air purification campaign, and a plan to clean up old homes, according to the administration’s website.
The program is designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from new power plants and buildings and to help residents and businesses transition to cleaner technologies.
It is the second such initiative in two years, after the administration announced plans to tackle the problem of air pollution from coal-fired power plants last year.
But it has drawn criticism from some scientists and some of its proponents say the goal of this effort is unrealistic and expensive.
“The president’s effort to eliminate coal-burning power plants is the most ambitious, expensive and politically controversial air pollution prevention program in history,” Michael Brune, an air pollution scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Hill in an email.
This new plan is designed primarily to help people with asthma and those with chronic health problems, he said.
But it may also have unintended consequences.
One of the biggest problems with the Obama administration air purifying initiative is the sheer size of the target population, the Obama Administration said in a statement released Friday.
We are now talking about about people who live in homes and businesses with more than a quarter of a million square feet (about 1,500 square meters), or about three times the area of the city of New York City, where the Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1990, according in the statement.
That means that even with the most stringent regulations, the administration says, more than half of those homes and properties will be required to be retrofitted to produce cleaner air.
The administration has said the goal is to reduce pollution by at least 80 percent by 2020, and that the cost of the program will be between $1.8 billion and $2.8 bn.
There are no national standards for building air purifications.
The regulations are being implemented by each state and by local governments, and the federal government has a number of air-purification goals that vary by state.
However, many experts and researchers say that is likely too high a goal and that air purifies only about 20 percent of the air in homes, buildings and workplaces, and is likely to be a far cry from the goal.
Some experts say the EPA should look at building programs that have already proven effective, such as a system called the Blue Man Group that has helped reduce carbon emissions in buildings and on airplanes, or the AirCancellation Program that helps remove particulate matter from the air.
Bermuda also said the new plan would be too costly to implement in many places, and also could increase the cost for consumers who are already struggling with air quality.
To put it simply, it’s just a very expensive program, Brune said.
“The costs are staggering,” he said, noting that it could take years to implement the plan.
If the program were implemented quickly and effectively, Brune says, it could potentially have an immediate impact.
In New York, the program has already saved about a million people a year from breathing in particulate pollution, he noted.