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Thursday, December 07, 2006

EPA Adopts Oil Industry Dirty-Air Plan to Cripple Clean Air Standards

Washington, DC, December 7, 2006 – The non-profit Clean Air Watch released the following statement today from its president, Frank O’Donnell, regarding the US EPA’s changes in setting national clean air standards:

“It’s deplorable that Bush administration has caved into the oil industry yet again.

“The Bush administration has taken a page right from the oil industry’s playbook. The industry had urged EPA to downgrade the role of EPA’s career experts and increase the role of politics. And the Bush administration has done exactly that. The industry seeks to cripple clean air standards.

“The official EPA memo can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/memo_process_for_reviewing_naaqs.pdf

“This memo is gobbledygook, which can be translated:

“EPA is downgrading the role of its own career experts and making sure that political appointees are running the show from the beginning. EPA is discarding the important `staff paper’ (which has been written by agency career staffers) and replacing it with the `policy assessment.’ As Bush political appointee William Wehrum said during today’s teleconference, this policy assessment will ‘reflect management’s views.’

“This move will also downgrade the status of EPA’s independent science advisers. Instead of having the unique role of critiquing the `staff paper,’ as they have in the past, the scientists will be allowed to comment on the ‘policy assessment’ on an equal footing with industry lobbies. It is little wonder that the oil industry pushed for exactly this sort of “reform” to the process.

“The whole purpose of this exercise is to make sure that EPA’s career experts don’t embarrass the politically appointed head of EPA again, as they did in the case of the fine-particle soot standards.”


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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EPA science advisers demand tougher smog standard

EPA Science Advisers Demand Tougher Smog Standard

Will EPA Chief Play Politics and Snub them Yet Again?

Washington, DC. October 25, 2006 – The nonprofit Clean Air Watch today hailed a call by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s independent science advisers, who unanimously urged the agency to set a tougher new standard to protect the public from smog.

In a letter dated October 24, the EPA science advisory panel said “there is no scientific justification” for keeping the current smog standard, set in 1997. They added that the current standard “needs to be substantially reduced to protect human health, particularly in sensitive subpopulations.”

The full letter is available at http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/casac-07-001.pdf

“This is clear and compelling evidence that today’s smog standards need to be updated,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“Smog harms breathers, and the existing standards just don’t cut it when it comes to protecting public health.”

O’Donnell noted the recommendation comes on the heels of a controversial decision by EPA Administrator Steve Johnson to ignore the science advisers in setting industry-friendly standards for particle soot.

“Johnson played politics and snubbed the scientists in order to protect polluters,” said O’Donnell. “Would he dare do it again on an issue so obvious and easy to understand?”

Smog (technically known as ozone) has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including asthma attacks, increased emergency room visits, and premature death.

Ozone is caused by chemicals produced by traffic, oil refining, coal burning and other smokestack industries.

EPA is under a court order to make a preliminary decision by next May and to issue a final decision by February 2008.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Advocates urge EPA to ok California global warming standards for vehicles

American Lung Association of New York State • Clean Air Watch • Conservation Law Foundation Environmental Defense • National Environmental Trust • Natural Resources Defense Council • Public Citizen • Sierra Club • Union of Concerned Scientists • U.S. Public Interest Research Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CONTACT:
John Anthony, 202.277.2103
Frank O’Donnell, 202.558.3527

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS, ADVOCATES URGE EPA TO BACK STATES’ EFFORTS TO REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING VEHICLE EMISSIONS

Washington, D.C. – Declaring it a “fundamental state’s right,” environmental, science, conservation, health and consumer leaders today joined key members of Congress in calling on the Bush administration to allow California to implement its new clean-car standards to limit global warming emissions.

In urging the Environmental Protection Agency to grant California a waiver under the Clean Air Act that will permit the state to require cleaner motor vehicles, the community leaders echoed a bipartisan call by more than 100 members of Congress led by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).

“California is trying to exercise a fundamental state’s right – the right to protect its citizens from dirty air,” noted Phil Clapp, president, National Environmental Trust. “The Bush administration has a choice: will it support states' rights or continue to serve as a roadblock to global warming action?”

The Clean Air Act provides that EPA shall grant any request from California to adopt vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as federal minimum standards. The Act also provides that other states may adopt the California standards if they have ever had poor ambient air quality. California requested EPA approval of new global warming emissions standards for passenger cars and trucks in December 2005. The agency has yet to respond.

“Congress wrote these Clean Air Act provisions in order to give states the freedom to adopt cleaner car standards to further protect the public from polluted air,” said David Doniger, climate policy director, Natural Resources Defense Council.

In late 2004, California adopted new standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to limit emissions that contribute to global warming. Ten other states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have followed suit while others are considering adopting those standards. Motor vehicle sales in these 11 states amount to one-third of all new vehicles sold nationwide each year.

Altogether, transportation accounts for more than one-quarter of global warming emissions in the U.S. each year. But, car companies have gone to court to try to derail the California standards, and the Bush administration has opposed federal limits on global warming pollution.

“While the Bush administration sits on its hands, the states are at the forefront of action to curb global warming,” said Emily Figdor, clean air & energy advocate, U.S. PIRG. “The federal government and automakers should not try to block this kind of progress.”

“States across the nation, including our home states here in the northeast, are seeking to protect the climate and save drivers money by following California’s path toward cleaner cars,” said Seth Kaplan, clean energy and climate change director, New England-based Conservation Law Foundation. “It is bad enough that we have to defend these rules against attack from carmakers in court in Vermont and Rhode Island, but it is truly outrageous when the federal government refuses to allow for this kind of state leadership.”

The California standards begin with the 2009 model year and phase-in gradually over eight years. By the 2016 model year, they would cut global warming pollution from new vehicles by almost 30 percent.

"Automakers have the technology in hand to meet California's rules," added Jason Mark, director of the clean vehicles program, Union of Concerned Scientists. "The state is on firm technical footing when it argues that reducing global warming pollution from cars can save drivers money."

California’s right to move ahead with the new standards is subject only to the requirement that it must receive a waiver from EPA under section 209(b) of the Clean Air Act, which California has requested. The waiver requirement aims to ensure that state standards are at least as protective as the federal standards.

“With more than eight million passenger vehicles in the state and nearly 90 percent of New Yorkers living in an area where air quality is deemed unhealthful, we are mystified as to why EPA Administrator Johnson has not acted on California’s clean car waiver request,” said Peter Iwanowicz, vice president, American Lung Association of New York State. “To ensure that the health of New Yorkers is protected, we call on Administrator Johnson to issue the waiver.”

EPA has never denied California’s requests, granting more than 40 waivers in the last three decades.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Clean Air Watch Assails EPA Soot Decision - Agency Ignores Its Own Science Advisers

Washington, DC. September 21, 2006 – The nonprofit Clean Air Watch today assailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to set weak and “non-scientific” air pollution standards for particle soot.

“With this decision, the Bush Administration has abdicated its responsibility to protect breathers from dangers in the air,” charged Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“This is a huge victory for big polluters, and a deadly setback for the breathing public. It is the single worst action the Bush administration has taken on air pollution.”

O’Donnell noted that literally dozens of medical and health groups – including the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics – had all urged the EPA to set much tougher standards to reduce both short-term and long-term exposure to particle soot.

EPA’s independent science advisers had echoed that call.

But EPA Administrator Steve Johnson disregarded that scientific advice in the face of pressure from big polluters, including the oil, electric power, coal, chemical, steel, automotive and diesel engine industries – big financial contributors to the Bush White House. O’Donnell noted an electric power industry lobbyist met with the White House on this issue as recently as Monday, September 18.

“EPA’s decision was based on political science, not real science,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “Why else would EPA disregard its own science advisers?”
O’Donnell noted that particle soot is the “most lethal” of all widespread air pollutants. Sources include coal-burning electric power plants, diesel engines and other smokestack industries.

Particle soot can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death. EPA’s own studies show that tens of thousands of Americans are dying prematurely from exposure to this deadly menace.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Smog Savages 38 States in July

Smog Savages 38 States in July,
Notes Clean Air Watch Report

Infant Deaths Cited by California Researchers

Washington, DC. August 2, 2006 – With the Washington, D.C. area gasping under a “code red” alert, the non-profit Clean Air Watch today reported that breathers in 38 states plus the District of Columbia gasped through serious smog problems in July.

The Clean Air Watch Smog Survey was released as researchers in California reported that outdoor air pollution is causing increased deaths among infants.

Clean Air Watch noted the heat wave that has rocked the nation also brought a “blanket of smog” from California to Maine.

Public health standards for ozone, or smog, were breached more than 1,000 times at state-run air pollution monitors in July, according to the survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers. The total was a slight increase over July 2005, continuing a 2006 trend.

“Over the years, we have made progress against smog,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “But this survey shows that we have a long way to go before we can take an easy breath.”

He called on the U.S. EPA to make good on an “overdue” promise to clean up high-polluting diesel freight trains and boats. Noting that existing diesel engines remain a huge source of pollution, O’Donnell observed that “Congressional cheapskates have cut President Bush’s budget request to clean up existing dirty diesel engines.”

O’Donnell added that “unless we start getting serious about global warming,” predicted increases in global temperatures could mean continued smog problems in the future. “And that will mean more asthma attacks, disease, and death.”

Infant death from pollution was the focus of the new study by researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles. In a study to be published in the journal Pediatrics http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/118/2/493?ct=ct
The scientists found increased sudden infant death syndrome and other increased deaths among infants in Southern California exposed to outdoor air pollution.

Details of the Clean Air Watch survey are available through Clean Air Watch and at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

EPA, Senate Should Ignore 'Bad Science' on Deadly Pollution

WASHINGTON - July 19 - With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) soon to make a critical decision about deadly particle soot pollution, medical experts and air pollution research specialists today called on EPA and a Senate committee to ignore what they called "bad science."
Their call came as the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing ostensibly designed to assess the science behind the EPA's pending proposal to make a slight adjustment in current standards. EPA's career scientists and its outside science advisers both called for tougher standards than EPA has proposed.

"There is overwhelming scientific evidence that EPA should strengthen both its annual and short-term standards for particle pollution," noted George Thurston, Sc.D., associate professor of environmental medicine, New York University School of Medicine, who testified today before the Committee.

"This is the position endorsed by such medical and health groups as the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Thoracic Society, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and many other health groups," noted Janice Nolen of the American Lung Association, adding that "EPA's own evidence shows that thousands of Americans are dying prematurely."

Despite what Nolen called "a consensus in the medical community that EPA should set better standards," the Senate panel, chaired by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) today is showcasing testimony by several witnesses with polluter connections called to cast doubt on the need for tougher standards.

"This hearing is designed to apply political pressure to the EPA," noted Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. EPA is under a court order to issue a final decision by Sept. 27, and key decisions are likely to be made very soon. "It will highlight industry-paid science that seeks to raise doubts about the need to clean up this deadly pollution," O'Donnell added.

One witness, Anne Smith of CRA International, "is a hired gun for the dirty electric power industry," noted O'Donnell. Smith is a consultant for the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a coalition of electric power companies opposed to new pollution standards. "Smith has cooked up an industry-friendly theory that we don't need better standards. But her theory has been discredited by other scientists and really is just providing cover for her power industry clients, who want to spend as little as possible on pollution cleanup."

Another witness opposed to tougher standards, Roger McClellan, was a member of the EPA science advisory panel, but he was one of only two panelists -- out of 22 scientists -- who dissented from the call by the science advisers for tougher standards.

"In other words, McClellan is what scientists would call an outlier," noted O'Donnell. "His views are outside the scientific mainstream."

McClellan was president of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology and now describes himself as "an advisor to public and private organizations on issues related to air quality."
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Smog's Up in June!

(Washington, DC. July 5, 2006 – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today warned that at least 34 states plus the District of Columbia have experienced serious smog problems already this year despite a lot of rain in typically smog-plagued areas.

In June alone, unhealthful smog levels were monitored about 10 percent more often than in June 2005, based on an unofficial survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers.

Many of the worst problems were in California, Texas and the Southeast. Rain put a damper on potential problems in the Northeast and much of the Midwest.

“Even though we’ve made great progress over the years in combating smog, this survey is evidence that we have a long way to go before we can breathe easy,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
“We need to move aggressively to clean up such big sources of smog as train and boat engines and make a better effort to clean up existing diesel engines,” O’Donnell noted.

“Our survey also underscores the need for the U.S. EPA to permit California to clean up high-polluting lawn mowers and other small engines, and for the EPA to move ahead with similar national emission standards,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell added that the Bush administration pollution plan for coal-burning electric power plants was “too little and too late.”

The survey of public web sites found monitored readings of dirty air in states from California to New Hampshire. In June alone, air pollution monitors recorded unhealthful levels of smog an estimated 1037 times, compared to about 950 in June 2005.

Dirty air haunted such popular “nature” areas as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Wisconsin, the Petrified Forest and the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.

Details of the survey are available http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 16, 2006

Clean Air Watch reports on Ecotalk: good news on diesel, bad news on American Electric Power

http://www.ecotalkblog.com/


June 16, 2006

Clean Diesel Fuel

Frank O' Donnell, President of Clean Air Watch tells us about good and bad news related to air pollution and global warming. Good is the oil companies are going to start producing clean diesel fuel. Bad is the American Electric Power (AEP) company continuing to block any significant policy to deal with global warming. LISTEN (11 min)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bush EPA Ignores Science -- and Recent Developments –In Reaffirming Pro-Industry Mercury Rule

(Washington, DC, May 31, 2006) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today decried the Bush administration’s decision to reaffirm the bad, industry-friendly mercury air pollution rule initially set in March 2005.

“The Bush administration is ignoring science – and the obvious potential for better pollution cleanup,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“This is a classic case of the Bush administration harming the environment by currying favor with a powerful special interest – the coal-burning electric power industry. This decision means power companies can continue to pump this poison into the air for many extra years, unless states take swifter cleanup action,” O’Donnell noted.

The facts – and developments in the past year – demonstrate this rule is a gift to the industry, O’Donnell added.

When EPA first issued the rule, it claimed that no commercially available pollution controls were available to clean up poisonous mercury. Since that time, various commercial contracts have been announced – giving the lie to the EPA plan. (See some examples at http://www.adaes.com/)

When EPA first issued the rule, it also claimed that its “cap-and-trade” plan would be just dandy – and that local pollution controls weren’t needed – because most of the mercury was allegedly coming from somewhere else. Since that time, EPA has found (in a study of Steubenville, Ohio), that localized reductions in mercury emissions would lead to less mercury in the local environment – thus giving the lie to the cap-and-trade plan.

“The irony here is that the pro-industry Bush plan has triggered a rebellion by states,” O’Donnell said. He pointed to a story in CQ Weekly which noted that 21 states -- some with Republican governors, including New York, Maryland, Minnesota and Connecticut - have served notice to the administration that they will produce their own mercury cleanup plans.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

With Congress set to vote, new government report on children calls for more, not less, reporting of toxic chemical releases

New Government Report on Children Underscores Folly of
Weakening Public Right-to-Know Standards for Toxics


(Washington, DC, May 17, 2006) – A new report on children and health, partly funded by the U.S. government, underscores the folly of weakening public right-to-know standards for toxic pollutants, the non-profit Clean Air Watch warned this morning.

The report, released this morning by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a North American environmental watchdog agency, examines the link between children’s health and toxic industrial pollution.

The report (available at www.cec.org) comes as Congress is about to debate efforts by the Bush administration to limit the public’s right to know about toxic releases by industry.

In contrast, the new study calls for efforts to better determine the sources, levels of exposure, and risks that industrial chemicals pose to children's health.

The report focuses on the releases of carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants, and suspected neurotoxins, as reported by the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and a counterpart Canadian program. It finds that lead, mercury, PCBs, dioxins and furans, phthalates and manganese are substances of either significant or emerging concern as they affect children and disease.

One report recommendation - to enhance mandatory pollution reporting requirements – “stands in stark contrast to the Bush administration's plan to weaken the public’s right to know about toxic releases,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

The EPA has proposed to reduce the frequency of TRI reporting by industry to every other year as well as to allow companies to release ten times the amount of toxics before detailed reporting is required.

The Bush plan has prompted Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Hilda Solis (D-CA) to announce they will challenge the EPA rule when the spending legislation for the EPA reaches the House floor, probably later this week. They plan to offer an amendment to prevent the EPA from moving forward with these weakening changes.

In addition to ranking clusters of toxic chemicals according to volume of total reported releases, the new report also examines chemicals based on the relative levels of their toxicity.

Doing this makes some air pollutants such as mercury appear far more significant, O’Donnell noted. For example, in looking at chemicals that are recognized developmental and reproductive toxicants, mercury and its compounds jump from 14th in terms of total on-site air releases to number one in terms of toxicity; lead and its compounds shift from 7th to the second most toxic on-site air release.

O’Donnell noted it was ironic that the report was released on what the EPA has called “National Air Quality Awareness Week” – a label that has been lampooned by some critics because of administration efforts to weaken clean-air requirements.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New Report Underscores AEP Role in Global Warming Problem

NEW REPORT UNDERSCORES AEP ROLE
IN GLOBAL WARMING PROBLEM

(Washington, DC, April 5, 2006) – A new report today by two non-profit groups underscores the major role played by Ohio-based American Electric Power in the global warming problem.

The report notes that AEP produces more heat-trapping carbon dioxide than any other power company in the nation.

The study was released one day after the company’s chairman, president and CEO Michael G. Morris appeared before a U.S. Senate panel and reiterated the company’s long-standing opposition to mandatory new limits on global warming pollution.

In stark contrast to AEP, some other big power companies have begun calling for mandatory greenhouse gas limits.

The report, “Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States 2004,” was released by the Ceres investor coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Public Service Enterprise Group Inc (PSEG), one of the electric power generation companies included in the report.

The study notes that electric power companies are not only the biggest source of carbon dioxide in the nation, but are projected to be the fastest-growing. It also includes a detailed comparative analysis of the 100 companies.

“AEP carries the dubious distinction of being number one when it comes to creating global warming pollution,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch.
“Morris talks a good game about the problem, but when push comes to shove, he and his company stonewall any effort in Congress to require mandatory global warming pollution limits,” O’Donnell said. He noted that Morris argued in favor of so-called voluntary limits just yesterday in a global warming conference held by the Senate Energy Committee.
Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber noted today that “voluntary approaches for curbing greenhouse gas emissions are not working.”

The report notes that the top three power producers in the U.S. – AEP, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority – collectively produce nearly one-fifth of the carbon dioxide emissions from the top 100 companies.

It also points out the huge disparity in emission rates among the companies. For example, although AEP produced seven times more electricity than PG&E, the company was responsible for 109 times the CO2 emissions.

The full report is available online at http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/benchmarking/

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Science Advisors to EPA: Reconsider Your Weak Particle Soot Proposal

CLEAN AIR ADVISORS TO EPA:
RECONSIDER YOUR WEAK PARTICLE SOOT PROPOSAL


(Washington, DC, March 23, 2006) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisors have officially asked EPA Administrator Steve Johnson to reconsider the agency’s proposed national air quality standards for particle soot.

In a March 21 letter, the advisors noted that EPA had proposed a weaker national health standard for particle soot than the advisors had previously recommended.
Scientific studies have shown health damage when people breathe air that EPA would consider healthful, the advisors noted.

“This is an unprecedented public rebuke to EPA by its independent panel of science advisors,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

“Particle soot is the most lethal air pollutant in the nation. This letter underscores our concern that EPA’s proposal was tainted by politics and economic considerations, when it should have been based on science,” O’Donnell added.

The advisors took EPA to task on several major issues, including:

Urging the EPA to set a tougher standard to govern a person’s annual exposure to fine-particle soot;

Faulting the agency for exempting mining and agriculture from standards for bigger soot particles; and

Urging EPA to monitor particle pollution in both urban and rural areas.

“The next step is up to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson,” said O’Donnell.

“Will he stand up and do the right thing – and pay attention to his own science advisors? Or will he continue to bow to political pressure from the White House?”

The entire letter is available at the Clean Air Watch website at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clean Air Watch to EPA Chief: Bush Misleads Public About Dangers of Soot

Clean Air Watch
1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 800Washington, DC 20005

For Immediate Release


CLEAN AIR WATCH TO EPA CHIEF:

BUSH MISLEADS PUBLIC ABOUT DANGERS OF SOOT


(Philadelphia, PA, March 8, 2006) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today charged that the Bush administration is misleading the public about the health dangers of breathing particle soot pollution.

At a hearing today in Philadelphia, the clean-air watchdog group charged that an EPA proposal “was contaminated by politics and White House interference.”

Clean Air Watch was among many public health, environmental and citizen organizations criticizing an EPA plan to revise national air quality standards for
particle soot, produced by coal burning, diesel engines and other industrial and agricultural sources.

Frank O’Donnell, President of Clean Air Watch, noted these standards are “supposed to represent the federal government’s assessment – based on the best available science – of what level of pollution is safe to breathe.”

“By that measure,” O’Donnell added, “EPA’s proposal flunks the truth in advertising test.”

“The sad truth here is that the Bush administration is misleading the public about the dangers of particle soot.”

For the first time in history, O’Donnell noted, EPA disregarded its own science advisors on a national air quality standard, and proposed something weaker.

“When confronted with this fact, and asked why he had ignored his own experts, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson had no coherent explanation,” said O’Donnell. “In fact, he sounded like a naughty child who was caught fibbing about something.”

O’Donnell noted that unknown “White House censors” had tampered with the plan, as they have with government scientists with expertise on global warming. He cited several specific examples.

“The public should have the right to know if the air they are breathing can harm them,” O’Donnell said. “It is time for EPA to come clean. And tell the public the truth.”

Noting that medical doctors are urging the EPA to set significantly tighter new standards, while industry propagandists are arguing against that, O’Donnell added: “I implore you: Listen to the real doctors, not the spin doctors.”

The entire Clean Air Watch testimony is available at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

EPA: NASCAR LEAD FUMES MAY POSE `SERIOUS' RISK; CLEAN AIR WATCH URGES MONITORING OF EMISSIONS

Clean Air Watch
1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 800Washington, DC 20005

For Immediate Release Contact: Frank O’Donnell (202-558-3527 or
202-302-2065)


EPA: NASCAR LEAD FUMES MAY POSE `SERIOUS’ RISK;

CLEAN AIR WATCH URGES MONITORING OF EMISSIONS


(Washington, DC. January 18, 2006) – Noting that an Environmental Protection Agency report warns of possible “serious health risks” from NASCAR leaded gasoline fumes, the non-profit Clean Air Watch is urging the agency to begin
checking for toxic lead in the air at NASCAR races.

The EPA warning came in a draft report that was quietly issued last month. The report, a compendium of health information about lead pollution, noted that NASCAR vehicles have been exempted from the ban on leaded gasoline. EPA scientists cautioned that the combustion of leaded gasoline during NASCAR events “likely” increases airborne lead concentrations in nearby areas.

“This may pose a serious health risk to some subpopulations such as residents living in the vicinity of racetracks, fuel attendants, racing crew and staff, and spectators,” the agency document warns.

Separately, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have found elevated levels of lead in the blood of 40 percent of a tested NASCAR team.

Noting these developments, Clean Air Watch is urging the EPA to begin monitoring for lead in the air at NASCAR races.

“As the EPA itself has reported, lead causes damage to the kidneys, liver, brain and nerves, and other organs,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, noted in a January 13, 2006 letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.

“Even low levels of lead damage the brain and nerves in fetuses and young children, resulting in learning deficits and lowered IQ.”

O’Donnell noted that because of the extraordinarily toxic nature of lead, “most of the world has moved to eliminate its use in gasoline,” including sub-Saharan Africa.

“Unfortunately, the health protections given to those in sub-Saharan Africa are not shared by children and others attending NASCAR events or living near race tracks,” O’Donnell added.

He called on Johnson to include funding for the monitoring program in EPA’s upcoming budget request to Congress, saying the program “would either document the concerns raised by the agency, or put those concerns to rest.”

The letter to EPA, the EPA study, and an abstract of the Indiana study are available on the Clean Air Watch website at http://www.blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/



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