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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