At least 38 states have experienced unhealthful levels of smog (technically ozone) already this year through May, according to the Clean Air Watch Smog Watch Survey.
That’s a significant increase from this time last year, when only 24 states had experienced smog problems. Please note the list of states below.
This widespread pollution problem calls into question the wisdom of legislation, expected to be introduced tomorrow by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) to suspend new pollution controls for coal-fired electric power plants, one of the biggest sources of smog.
The Lugar plan, as outlined on his website http://lugar.senate.gov/energy/legislation/pdf/PracticalEnergyPlan.pdf, could bring grave consequences: not only continuing smog, but also sulfur dioxide, deadly fine-particle soot and toxic mercury and other dangerous pollutants. We have not seen the actual language of the Lugar legislation, but the summary suggests amnesty for the biggest polluters – and giving them the right to continue fouling the air for another decade – in return for a “voluntary” pledge.
Breathers in Indiana are among those who have suffered from dirty air this year, as have people in states immediately downwind of Indiana, including Ohio and Kentucky.
The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the first comprehensive snapshot of smog in the United States in 2010. Volunteers have compiled the information from a variety of sources including state-run websites.
It found that the national health standard for smog, technically ozone, was breached almost 600 times through May at monitors from California to Maine.
Clean Air Watch noted that smog problems are continuing in June, with bad air warnings out today in such places at Atlanta, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. See EPA’s website at http://airnow.gov/
The Smog Watch Survey underestimates the full extent of the smog problem. The standard used as a measurement – 75 parts per billion of ozone, set by the U.S. EPA in 2008 – is weaker than a proposed new standard under consideration by EPA.
Clean Air Watch continues to encourage the Obama administration to set a tougher national health standard, no higher than 60 parts per billion, in accord with the latest health research.
We also encourage the EPA to move ahead with a new strategy to reduce smog-forming emissions that cross state lines. Our survey shows that an effective interstate pollution rule is crucial to meet public health needs.
It underscores that breathers will suffer terrible consequences if Congress suspends clean air requirements as part of an alleged strategy to deal with climate. Compromising public health should not be an option.
SMOG WATCH 2010 SUMMARY – THROUGH MAY, COMPARED TO 2009
STATES WITH UNHEALTHFUL AIR FOR OZONE