A Bowlful of Cherries

Celebrating Matty and Noah

Bad air?

Leavitt: “This isn’t about the air getting dirtier. The air is getting cleaner. These new rules are about our new understanding of health threats, about our standards getting tougher and our national resolve to meet them.” (NYTimes, 15 April 2004)

EPA told officials in 31 states Thursday they must develop new pollution controls because the air in some of their counties, home to more than 150 million people, does not meet air quality standards. All or part of 474 counties, mostly in the eastern third of the country and in California, do not meet the federal health standard for smog-causing ozone. Officials have three years to develop plans to come into compliance.

Critics remain skeptical of EPA’s rationale for identifying “nonattainment” counties, noting a push by state and local leaders to avoid nonattainment tags because they increase federal regulatory burdens on local areas. A designation of noncompliance also has economic impact on areas because businesses are often reluctant to locate there, fearing future pollution controls. EPA needs to offer further explanation of its decision to leave at least 30 counties off the list.

The regulations allow less ozone in the air, to 85 parts per billion (ppb) measured over eight hours instead of the one-hour, 120 ppb threshold, making compliance tougher. In 1991, the last time EPA designated ozone nonattainment areas, 101 areas including 371 counties — home to more than 140 million people — were out of compliance.

UPDATE: It should be noted that the Clinton administration implemented the stricter air quality rules. The Bush administration has done virtually nothing, but leave these standards in place.


Written by Michael

15 Apr 2004 at 241pm

Posted in Misc.

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