The Soot Struggle: the Battle Lines Are Drawn
On April 17, 2006, the U.S. EPA officially closed the public comment period on its proposal, announced right before Christmas, to make minor changes in national air quality standards for particle pollution, commonly known as soot. So far, the EPA has ignored its own science advisers, who have pointed out that modern science demands that EPA set tougher standards in order to protect people’s health.
Literally scores of thousands of comments have flooded into EPA – the vast majority of them urging the agency to set tougher standards than those proposed. (A final decision is due under a court order by September 27.) The government is posting those comments on http://www.regulations.gov/.
Clean Air Watch has spent many hours reviewing those comments and looking for patterns. And even though the government has still not officially posted all the comments, we have seen enough to provide a general frame of reference. See details below.
Medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Cancer Society are united in urging the EPA to set much tougher standards.
Also seeking better standards are state and local clean-air regulators – including many from states with Republican governors such as Utah, Missouri, California and Maryland.
Needless to say, health and environmental organizations from around the nation are also urging the EPA to set better standards.
Aligned against these groups is a dirty-air axis of virtually every major industry group in the nation, including the coal, oil, chemical, steel, automobile, diesel and electric power industries, abetted by various front-group “think tanks” that they support financially. Farm and ranching groups round out the opposition.
Some interesting tidbits emerge from these comments. Consider, for example:
Ex-Cheney Aide Calls Home: Jim Sims is head of the Western Business Roundtable, an alliance of coal and other polluter groups in the West. http://www.westernroundtable.com/company/leadership.asp
Sims, noted for being the communications director for Vice President Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Policy Group http://www.westernroundtable.com/company/bio_jsims.asp
as well as for organizing the annual business festival of access buying (ABFAB) in the desert, blasted the idea of tougher particle soot rules. He made sure the first person he CC’d was his old boss – Dick Cheney.
Dirty Liberal Darling: Note the comments by the producers of ethanol – a fuel extolled by some liberal groups as the antidote to oil. It turns out that Big Corn – Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and other members of the Corn Refiners Association – is literally marching in lockstep with Big Oil against tougher standards. Smaller ethanol producers (for example, the National Association of Farmer Cooperatives) also oppose tougher soot standards. So does the National Corn Growers Association.
Did Gilbert & Sullivan Write This? Note the letter from Donald Schregardus, who became notorious as the pro-industry head of the Ohio EPA. In fact, Schregardus was so controversial that President Bush was forced to withdraw his nomination as the U.S. EPA’s top enforcement officer. As a consolation prize, the Bush administration made Schregardus Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (yes, it does seem like a plot borrowed from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore”), and in that capacity, Schregardus warned that big particles could interfere with the military’s testing of weapons. No, as singer Anna Russell once put, it, we are not making this up.
Is it the chicken, or the egg – or the manure? No matter, because the United Egg Producers, Tyson’s chicken company and the Fertilizer Institute all oppose tougher EPA standards.
Below is an incomplete list of groups that seek tougher soot standards, and groups that oppose them:
Among those arguing for tougher standards
American Medical Association
American Association on Mental Retardation
American Cancer Society
American College of Nurse-Midwives
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Nurses Association
American Public Health Association
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Center for Children's Health and the Environment,
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Children's Environmental Health Network
Health Care Without Harm
Institute for Children's Environmental Health
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Research Center for Women & Families
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Science and Environmental Health Network
The Arc of the United States
The Learning Disabilities Association of America
Trust for America's Health
STATES AND STATE GROUPS
(Representing Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey)
State and Territorial Program Administrators and
Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Dayton, Ohio, Regional Air Pollution Control Authority
Boulder County, Colorado
Mono County, California
Pinal County, Arizona
City of Phoenix
Department of the Navy
Clean Air Watch
Natural Resources Defense Council
[Many others. The list is VERY long; please e-mail us if you want it]
Among those arguing against tougher standards
UMBRELLA DIRTY-AIR AXIS:
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
American Chemistry Council
American Coke and Coal Chemicals
American Forest & Paper Association
American Iron and Steel Institute
Corn Refiners Association
Council of Industrial Boiler Owners
Edison Electric Institute
Engine Manufacturers Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Cotton Council
National Mining Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Petrochemical & Refiners
National Rural Electric Cooperative
Portland Cement Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Utility Air Regulatory Group
American Road and Transportation Builders Association
FARM AND RANCH GROUPS
The Fertilizer Institute
United Egg Producers
Tyson Food (chickens)
National Association of Farmer Cooperatives
Agri Beef Co.
South Dakota Farm Bureau
Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation
North Dakota Stockman’s Association
Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Georgia Cotton Commission
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Louisiana Cotton Producers Association
National Grain and Feed Association
Washington Farm Bureau
National Corn Growers Association
American Meat Institute
ELECTRIC POWER COMPANIES (and allied public power groups)
American Public Power Association
American Electric Power
AES New York
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
City of Lakeland
City of Tallahassee
Dairyland Power Cooperative
The Dayton Power & Light Company
Entergy Services, Inc.
Entergy Gulf States
Entergy New Orleans
Florida Municipal Power Agency
Florida Power & Light Company
Gainesvile Regional Utilties
Great River Energy
Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.
Nevada Power Company
NRG Energy, Inc.
Orlando Utilties Commission
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Reliant Energy, Inc.
Tampa Electric Company
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation
Xcel Energy Inc.
Western Business Roundtable
National Association of Home Builders
Corporate Front Groups
American Enterprise Institute