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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Clean Air Watch Smog Survey: smog problems up by nearly one-third in September

Even as many in Congress continue relentless attacks on air pollution control requirements - - and the Obama administration faces accusations of waffling -- Clean Air Watch disclosed today that “Code Orange” and “Code Red” smog days were up by nearly one-third in September compared to September 2010.

In releasing its latest Smog Watch Survey, Clean Air Watch noted the 2011 eye-brow-raising smog spike came despite a rainy and cool September which washed out most of the problems in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast.

Clean Air Watch noted that there were 1,038 “Code Orange” or “Code Red” days in September, clustered in 22 states. That compares to 785 such days in 24 states and the District of Columbia in September 2010. Clean Air Watch volunteers compiled these statistics from state-run smog monitors. The total refers to the number of monitors with dirty-air readings worse than the smog standard (75 parts per billion of ozone) set by the Bush administration in 2008. The EPA recently said it will enforce this standard after President Obama blocked efforts to toughen it.

Altogether in 2011, there have been more than 5,300 “Code Orange” or “Code Red” smog days through September, compared to about 3,900 the previous year – a 36 percent increase, Clean Air Watch noted.

Some interesting factoids:

• Chicago had a “Code Orange” smog day the very day (September 2) President Obama ordered the EPA to kill its plan to update and toughen national air quality standards for smog.

• California retains the dubious honor of having the worst air in the nation. There were “Code Orange” or “Code Red” readings somewhere in Calfornia 27 days during September – every day except Sept. 12, 25 and 26.

• Close on California’s heels, however, was Texas, which had 25 dirty-air days during September – an interesting factoid given Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to EPA’s Cross-State Pollution Rule AND his bizarre bragging about pollution cleanup in the state.

The widespread air pollution problem is further evidence that more needs to be done to clean up the air – including pollution reductions at power plants as well as tougher new standards for motor vehicles and cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline.

More details are available at http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/10/clean-air-watch-smog-watch-survey-smog.html

State-by-state monitoring results are available from Clean Air Watch.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Widespread "Code Orange" and "Code Red" Days Argue for Tougher Vehicle, Gasoline Standards

(Washington, D.C., September 12, 2011) – Even though the White House recently squashed tougher national smog standards for political reasons, widespread “Code Orange” and “Code Red” smog days demonstrate the need for tougher motor vehicle and gasoline controls, according to a survey by the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

The nation experienced nearly 1,300 “Code Orange” or “Code Red” days for ozone in August alone – a 40 percent increase over the number in 2010, Clean Air Watch noted. Altogether there have been a total of 4,275 “Code Orange” or “Code Red” days in 39 states and the District of Columbia through August of this year. That compares to 3,123 “Code Orange” or “Code Red” days during the comparable period last year.

These dirty-air warnings are based on the national smog air quality standards set by the Bush administration in 2008.

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said the survey “demonstrates the absolute need for better national controls on smog-forming pollution. And the easiest way to do this is for EPA to move forward with tougher tailpipe pollution standards for passenger vehicles and cleaner, lower-sulfur gasoline.”

The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the only comprehensive snapshot of smog in the nation released periodically through the summer smog season. O’Donnell noted “This is first Smog Watch survey since the White House – in a foolish and cowardly cave-in to big polluters and some Republicans in Congress – ordered the EPA to stop a plan to update national ozone standards.”

But O’Donnell noted that “even under the scientifically deficient smog standards set by the Bush administration in 2008, we need to do more to clean up the air. Setting better motor vehicle and fuel standards would be a good first step in the right direction.”

The survey found that in August 2011 alone, 29 states experienced levels of smog worse than the national ozone standards set by the Bush Administration in 2008. These smog events are labeled “Code Orange” or “Code Red” under the Air Quality Index system created by the federal bureaucracy.

The survey “understates the full extent of the smog problem,” O’Donnell noted. EPA’s science advisers and own experts have called for tougher national ozone air quality standards based on modern science. EPA was attempting to update the national standards
http://1.usa.gov/lCsWTr until the update was shut down for political reasons by the White House.

More details on the Clean Air Watch survey are available at http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/09/smog-watch-survey-finds-widespread-smog.html

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Smog Watch 2011: Smog Roars Back with a Vengeance in June

(Washington, D.C., July 5, 2011) – Smog roared back with a vengeance in June, according to a survey by the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

The nation experienced more than double the dirty-air days last month than during June 2010, Clean Air Watch noted. The pollution and heat-driven smog siege came after generally lower smog levels during the first several months of the year.

Clean Air Watch said the survey demonstrated the “dire need” for the U.S. EPA to move ahead with tougher pollution controls for coal-fired electric power plants as well as other pollution controls including cleaner motor vehicles and less-polluting gasoline.

The survey found that in June, 37 states plus the District of Columbia experienced levels of smog worse than the national ozone standards set by the Bush Administration in 2008. These smog events are labeled “Code Orange” or “Code Red” under the Air Quality Index system created by the federal bureaucracy.

The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the only comprehensive snapshot of smog in the United States in 2011. It found that the national health standard for smog, technically ozone, was breached 1,237 times during June at monitoring stations. During the same period last year, there were 567 such events, known in the jargon of the bureaucracy as “exceedences.”’

Altogether there have been 1,687 dirty-air days during 2011 compared to 1,146 during a comparable period last year. More details on the survey are available at http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/07/clean-air-watch-smogwatch-survey.html

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, noted that the survey “clearly understates the full extent of the smog problem” The measurement used in the survey (ozone levels worse than 75 parts per billion, the same measurement used by the EPA in its “Code Orange” and “Code Red” designations – is weaker than the levels recommended by EPA’s scientific advisers and the proposal made in 2010 by the Obama administration. http://1.usa.gov/lCsWTr

“Many millions of Americans, including children and people with asthma, remain at risk under the weak current standards,” O’Donnell said. He noted that EPA – under pressure from polluters – has several times delayed a final decision on new smog standards, but has promised one by the end of this month.

EPA is expected tomorrow to take a big step towards reducing smog and soot levels when it announces its final new “transport” rule aimed at reducing electric power plant smog and soot emissions that blow across state lines.

“This will be a giant step towards cleaner air, but it obviously will not be enough,” O’Donnell said.

He called on EPA to move ahead with preliminary plans to require cleaner new passenger vehicles and lower-sulfur gasoline.



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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Smog Watch 2011: Fewer States With Dirty Air Than Last Year, But...

(Washington, D.C., June 8, 2011) – Fewer states have experienced “officially” dangerous smog levels so far in 2011 than during the same period last year, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has still not updated national health standards to reflect modern science.

A survey by the non-profit Clean Air Watch found that, through May 31, 22 states plus the District of Columbia experienced levels of smog worse than the national ozone standards set by the Bush Administration in 2008. These smog events are labeled “Code Orange” or “Code Red” under the Air Quality Index system created by the federal bureaucracy.

Thirty-eight states had similar dangerous smog levels during a comparable period last year.

The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the first comprehensive snapshot of smog in the United States in 2011. It found that the national health standard for smog, technically ozone, was breached 445 times through May 31 at monitoring stations. During the same period last year, there were more than 575 such events, known in the jargon of the bureaucracy as “exceedences.”

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, noted that the survey understates the full extent of the smog problem. The measurement used in the survey (ozone levels worse than 75 parts per billion, the same measurement used by the EPA in its “Code Orange” and “Code Red” designations – is weaker than the levels recommended by EPA’s scientific advisers and the proposal made in 2010 by the Obama administration. http://1.usa.gov/lCsWTr

“The EPA itself has admitted that children, people with asthma and many others remain at risk under the woefully weak current standards,” O’Donnell noted. He added that the oil industry and other big polluters are fighting tooth and nail against tougher final EPA standards.

EPA has several times delayed a final decision, but has promised one by next month.

“The Obama administration must choose the health of children over the wishes of the oil industry,” O’Donnell said. “And it’s time to do it now.”

The list of states and more on the survey is available at http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/06/clean-air-watch-smogwatch-survey.html

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clean Air Watch hails historic EPA plan to close lethal loophole for coal-fired power plants

(Washington, DC, March 16, 2011) – Here is the statement of Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch, in reaction to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal today to set mercury and other toxic pollution standards for coal-burning power plants:

This is historic -- it would end the lethal loophole that permits coal-burning power plants to spew poisonous pollution into the air.

Indeed, this is the single biggest step for public health protection that the EPA will take this year. Thousands of Americans will live longer and many millions will breathe easier as a result. Not only that, but fish will be safer to eat as toxic mercury is reduced from water bodies.

EPA would bring the dirtiest and most toxic coal power plants up to the standards of today’s cleanest plants. This would protect public health, clean up the environment – and create jobs.

Thanks to its lobbying prowess, the coal-burning power industry has escaped toxic pollution controls for more than two decades. Coal burning is the biggest source of mercury and other toxic emissions.

It is high time we closed this lethal loophole that permits coal-burning power plants to escape toxic pollution controls.

We have no doubt this is only round one of this battle, and that coal interests will continue to fight for loopholes and delays. We anticipate a smokestack smokescreen: scare tactics, including phony claims about possible blackouts.

EPA needs to stand its ground and make sure that these dirty power plants clean up ASAP.
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