Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Smogwatch '05: standard breached nearly 1000 times in July, in 36 states

Clean Air Watch
1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 800Washington, DC 20005(202) 558-3527

For Immediate Release Contact: Frank O’Donnell (202-558-3527 or


(Washington, DC. August 2, 2005) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today warned that the national health standard for smog was breached nearly 1,000 times in 36 states during July 2005.

The unofficial survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers found that people were breathing dirty air not just in traditionally smoggy states such as California, Texas, North Carolina and New Jersey, but even in usually “clean” states including Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa and Florida.

“This is a reality check that we haven’t solved the smog problem yet,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“We will need every tool available in the law to make sure that the public can breathe truly clean air.” O’Donnell noted those tools include permitting states to take action against big polluters in upwind states, allowing states to adopt tougher California motor vehicle emission standards, and permitting the Environmental Protection Agency to set better pollution controls on high-polluting small engines.

O’Donnell noted business lobbies and their allies in government are opposing all of these cleanup strategies: At the prompting of the electric power industry, EPA yesterday rejected North Carolina’s petition to reduce smog-forming pollution from other states. The auto industry is lobbying aggressively to block states from adopting tougher motor vehicle standards. And, at the request of small engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton, Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) is trying to throw up roadblocks to new pollution controls on dirty small engines.

The Clean Air Watch survey of air pollution monitors found the smog standard was breached 979 times in July –- about a 67% increase over the previous year. O’Donnell noted that hot weather played a factor in the 2005 statistics – just as cooler, rainy weather dampened smog problems in 2004.

“We can hardly rely on rain and cooler weather to bail us out of our smog problems,” O’Donnell noted, “especially since the climate is heating up because of human activities.”

The full list of states is available at the Clean Air Watch blog at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/. The unofficial monitor-by-monitor readings are available from Clean Air Watch.