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 until the update was shut down for political reasons by the White House.

More details on the Clean Air Watch survey are available at