Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year's predictions: tougher clean air standards on the way

Happy New Year to you all.

We expect some very interesting developments in 2010, including tougher national clean air standards for some of the nation’s most widespread pollutants, including smog (ozone), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Some big developments are slated for this week. A little more on these, below.

Over the course of the next decade, these decisions could lead to more positive real-world impacts than some of the “compromise” climate plans being discussed in the U.S. Senate. You may want to keep this in mind amid some of the “will the Senate pass it?” type stories on climate. (Speaking of which, I predict more skepticism about so-called “carbon capture and sequestration” technology. There have already been reports in Canada warning of potential water pollution, and I believe there will be more cautionary notes sounded.)

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Smog stunner? Later this week, the US EPA is expected to announce its proposed decision to reconsider the national ozone, or smog, standards set by the Bush administration. As you may recall, the Bush team ignored the unanimous advice of EPA’s science advisers and set weaker-than-appropriate standards. For a preview of what we expect from the new team,


Clean Air Watch will be joining with the American Lung Association Wednesday, January 6, in a media briefing by telephone.

The briefing begins at 1 pm Eastern time at: 212-401-6760; Participant PIN Code: 9049136#.

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Sulfur session: Tomorrow, the US EPA holds a hearing in Atlanta on its proposal to set a new national standard to limit short-term public exposure to sulfur dioxide. Our friends from the American Lung Association will testify. We support their statements. Final EPA standards are due in early June.

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Nitrogen next: The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing final EPA rules that are expected to set a new national standard to limit short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide. Clean Air Watch has joined the American Lung Association is urging tougher standards and a better system of monitors near high-exposure areas such as near major roads.

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“Renewable” fuels? OMB is also reviewing final EPA rules that would carry out the congressional mandate to ramp up the amount of “renewable” fuel used by motor vehicles. You may recall we raised concerns about a part of the EPA proposal that appeared to be an accounting trick aimed at making fuel from corn and soybeans look greener. The ag lobby, of course, has been leaning on EPA to make its plan even worse from an environmental standpoint. (No, that’s not how the corn crowd would characterize it, of course.)

With this looming, last week 11 Northeastern states announced they would adopt a low-carbon fuel standard modeled on that issued by the state of California. Needless to say, the corn lobby is suing to overturn the California standards.

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One item on the climate front I thought worth sharing is this item from the Huffington Post. I do think it will be interesting to see if the Cantwell-Collins climate alternative gets more traction. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-sandler/top-10-glass-half-full-cl_b_407559.html

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