Monday, September 03, 2012

Gasping for Air: Clean Air Watch Reports on the Smoggiest Summer in at Least Five Years

We are not happy to report this, but the facts speak for themselves.  The Clean Air Watch Smog Watch Survey has found that this summer was the smoggiest across America in at least five years.

(Yes, we know: Technically, summer's not over yet.  These are year to date readings from state pollution monitors through the end of August. These will include the vast majority of smog events this calendar year.)

These sobering statistics come in the aftermath of a federal court ruling against EPA's cross-state air pollution rule and the Obama Administration's regrettable timidity in moving ahead with lower smog, lower-sulfur gasoline standards.

The news also comes at the start of the Democratic National Convention -- an event, which, like last week's Republican National Convention, apparently will not highlight the fact that we as a nation still have a major air pollution problem. Indeed, the local convention host committee's co-chair is Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Rogers, whose company is a notorious air polluter that has long fought against EPA cleanup requirements.

The new survey, by Clean Air Watch volunteers of state and federal web sites, found that the national health standard for smog (set in 2008 by the Bush administration) had been breached more than 1,600 times in August 2012 alone. These smog levels, known in the jargon of government as "exceedances," are labeled "Code Orange or "Code Red" and the air quality index system created by the federal bureaucracy.

It's not only the smoggiest August since the Bush standard was set: this year has been the smoggiest year overall since 2008.  As the chart below notes, there have been more than 6,300 exceedances this year through August -- far more than any year since the standard was set.

Even worse, that standard itself does not reflect the severity of the smog problem in America.

As you will recall, the Obama White House killed an EPA effort to update and toughen that standard so it would reflect modern science.  The Obama team is now in court defending an obviously deficient smog standard.  (EPA's staff scientists recently reiterated that the Bush-Obama smog standard is too weak to protect people's health http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2012/08/epa-staff-bush-obama-smog-standard.html
and http://1.usa.gov/Nua5lM )

Duke's Rogers has been criticized for falling short in fund-raising efforts for the convention.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/as-fundraising-for-the-dnc-comes-up-short-some-blame-jim-rogers/2012/07/10/gJQARolhbW_story.html

But is anyone going to talk about how we are falling short as a nation in the quest to allow all Americans to breathe clean air?

Here is a chart which summarizes ozone exceedances since 2008
 

      Year
      Jan-Apr
    May
      June
      July
     August
    Total
2008
410
390
1590
1850
800
5030
2009
110
480
540
740
770
2640
2010
210
380
570
1080
910
3150
2011
130
320
1240
1310
1280
4280
2012
150
850
2120
1590
1620
6330

1 comment:

L.L. Norton said...

Are breathers better off than they were four years ago? Sounds as if the answer is "no."