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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

PA groups monitoring soot pollution pleased by new EPA standards

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Thursday, May 2, 2024   

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized stronger air quality standards for soot pollution and one regional organization said it is a step in the right direction.

The EPA said the plan reflects the latest health data and scientific evidence and the final rule goes into effect Monday.

Nick Hood, community organizer at the Center for Coalfield justice, said soot is fine particulate matter from power plants, vehicles, and refineries and the EPA is revising its National Ambient Air Quality Standards for soot. He added any improvement in the standards will certainly help Pennsylvanian health.

"If you live within, I think it is, a couple of kilometers of a well, you have a four to five times greater chance of developing asthma," Hood pointed out. "Decreasing the amount of particulate matter that's actually allowed to be polluted from some of these sources will certainly be helpful in not exacerbating those asthma cases."

Opponents of the changes said the stricter standards could push factories to move overseas, costing American jobs and hurting the economy.

Willie Dodson, Central Appalachian field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, said it will reduce the maximum allowable amount of soot from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to nine. He noted controlling pollution output in Pennsylvania would save lives.

"High levels of soot are associated with asthma attacks, pulmonary and respiratory issues and hospital visits related to those issues, and premature death," Dodson explained. "This hits Black and brown communities hardest. Black Americans 65 and older are three times as likely to die from exposure to elevated soot than white people of the same age."

Dodson added his organization and its community partners launched the Upper South and Appalachia Citizen Air Monitoring Project last year. The group distributed monitors to track particulate matter in the air, installed at homes and clinics. They are expanding to include the five-state region of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Disclosure: Appalachian Voices contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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