[urb-eco] Air Quality Trends: What EPA Didn't Tell You
- This came from the Urb-Eco list & I thought the Carfree list
should see it as well:
From: "Michael Meuser" <meuser@...>
Subject: [urb-eco] Air Quality Trends: What EPA Didn't Tell You
(Recall that it was the National Governor's Ass'n that pressured
Carol Browner into shelving the Cumulative Exposure Project)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 19, 2001 12:26 PM
CONTACT: Clean Air Trust
Frank O'Donnell 202-785-9625
Air Quality Trends: What EPA Didn't Tell You
WASHINGTON - October 19 - Memo To Reporters Covering The
We were intrigued at the news release issued late yesterday by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding air quality
trends in the nation (see http://www.epa.gov and note news
releases for Oct. 18). So we read the actual report and related
background material. Here are a few things the EPA didn't tell you:
-- In the release, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman hailed a
recent National Governors Association (NGA) policy as a
"remarkable step forward" toward addressing pollution from electric
power plants. This is unfortunate and misleading propaganda. In
fact, during its recent annual meeting, NGA adopted a policy
similar to that of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI): it urged
changes in EPA's "new source review" program to promote "fuel
diversity," which is code language for increased coal burning. NGA
also mimicked EEI rhetoric by calling for "regulatory certainty" and
a "flexible, market-based program." Again, like EEI, the governors
opposed any mandatory reductions of the heat-trapping gas carbon
dioxide. It's no wonder, by the way, that NGA came up with such a
blatantly pro-industry approach. The policy was developed behind
closed doors without input from the general public.
-- Despite progress in reducing pollution, EPA's press release
neglected to mention that more than 121 million people were still
living in areas that violated basic public health standards in 2000. In
a footnote to its report, EPA noted that "this number may increase"
as new monitors go up to track fine particulate soot. These
sobering statistics dramatically underscore the continuing need for
enforceable programs to protect air quality at the state and local
level. Unfortunately, EPA's Whitman has said that she, like
industry, would like to scuttle many of those programs, including
new source review.
-- EPA's release failed to note that smog-and-soot-forming nitrogen
oxides emissions actually increased by three percent during the
past decade. This is mainly due to increased emissions from
diesel trucks and buses and from so-called "nonroad" diesel
engines, including construction equipment. The pollution increase
underscores the need to press ahead with efforts to clean up diesel
trucks and highway diesel fuel (the oil industry is suing to block
EPA's cleanup plan) as well as for EPA to initiate a bold new
initiative to clean up nonroad diesel engines and diesel fuel.
-- EPA's release failed to note the shocking fact that during the
past decade, smog levels rose in 29 of our national parks, including
"significant upward trends" in the Great Smoky Mountains, the
Everglades, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Canyonlands, among
others. The fine print of EPA's report also suggests that visibility is
becoming worse at western national parks. These statistics
underscore the need to move forward with tough "regional haze"
rules, which Whitman has said she would like to eliminate, as well
as to maintain new source review requirements.
-- EPA failed to note that a recent National Academy of Sciences
report found that mercury exposure may cause neurological
problems in 60,000 children born in the U.S. each year. Or that 40
states have issued fish consumption warnings because of mercury.
Or that electric power plants are the biggest source of mercury.
EPA has discussed eliminating upcoming EPA "toxic" air pollutant
rules on mercury in favor of a system that would allow utilities to
buy and sell toxic mercury "credits."
-- EPA's release also failed to note that greenhouse gas emissions
in the U.S. rose 11 percent between 1990 and 1998. Electric utility
emissions went up even more. Obviously, the "voluntary" reduction
efforts touted in EPA's press release aren't doing the job.
Michael R. Meuser,
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities