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."

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