After the Supreme Court ruling clarifying that the EPA had an obligation to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency developed the Clean Power Plan to target greenhouse gases. That’s not the only pollutant that is reduced by cutting emissions and moving away from coal for power generation, though. Limiting the rest of the stuff that comes out the smokestack has health an economic benefits, as well—“co-benefits” in the policy lingo.
One type of pollution on that list is the compounds that react to produce ozone in the lower atmosphere. While ozone up in the stratosphere shields us from skin-burning UV radiation, ozone at the surface is a lung irritant. It harms plants, as well, reducing the uptake of CO2 that fuels growth.
A recent study led by Drexel University’s Shannon Capps and Syracuse University’s Charles Driscoll examines the impact that the Clean Power Plan would have on yields of several susceptible crops and the growth of a handful of tree species.