Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Roundup of the Cities with the Cleanest and Most Polluted Air in America

(As the year draws to an end, we thought it might be an appropriate time to share Emily Folk's latest post, below, looking at the cities with the cleanest and most polluted air. We love her optimism about Fresno!)

It's no secret that some cities in America have better air quality than others. There are plenty of factors that go into a city's air quality — pollution, altitude, the average amount of wind, and proximity to the ocean can all affect how clean you're breathing in and around the city's area. Size and distribution of people in and around the urban area also play a huge role in a city's air cleanliness.

For our reference, the America Lung Association releases a "State of the Air" review every year. This report measures each city across America for its air quality, in particular, measuring ozone and particle pollution in the metropolitan areas. Ozone manifests as factory and vehicle smog, while particle pollution is a thicker, sootier variety of pollution. (For a little more technical description, see here: smog, soot and other widespread pollutants ) Both are serious concerns for the health of those living in the area long-term.
Today we’re going to look at the best — and worst — cities for air quality around the states. Away we go!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

PLAGIARISM!! New Charges Against Trump Pick As TOP WH Enviro Adviser

FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2017
Meghan Pennington or Christine Brennan – (202224-8832

Amid Evidence of Plagiarism, Carper Leads EPW Minority in Calling on CEQ Nominee to Submit New and Original Answers

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s pick to serve as his most senior environmental advisor, copied at least 18 responses to questions for the record verbatim from previous nominees, including EPA Administrator Pruitt

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the minority members of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee called on Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality and serve as his most senior environmental advisor, to submit new and original responses to questions for the record after it was discovered that at least 18 of her responses were copied verbatim from responses previously submitted to the committee. Repeatedly, Ms. White’s answers to questions of opinion – on issues including climate change, hazardous air pollutants and environmental justice – matched answers previously provided by President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominees, including EPA Administrator Pruitt and EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

SHE SAID IT! Frightening Comments from Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump Pick as Top White House Environmental Adviser

We think these quotes, compiled by members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, speak for themselves.

Monday, November 27, 2017

What You Need to Know About the Clean Air Act: A Guide Especially for Attorneys and Their Clients

(Like any major law, the Clean Air Act is often the subject of rule makings and litigation. Criminal attorney Brett A. Podolsky explains what attorneys -- and their clients -- need to know.)

The Clean Air Act controls air pollution across the nation. It’s considered one of the most inclusive air quality laws on earth. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with the administration of the Clean Air Act and coordinates with tribal, state, and local governments. The Clean Air Act’s implementing regulations are summarized at 40 C.F.R. Subchapter C (Parts 50 – 97). 

Monday, November 20, 2017

How Much Would It Cost to Power Puerto Rico With Solar Energy?

(Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this topical guest post by Kyle Pennell)

When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in late September, the island was decimated. The official death toll is still less than 100 people, but that number will likely continue to rise due to contaminated water and a lack of medical supplies and services.

In addition to the lives lost, Maria caused an estimated $95 billion in damage. Most of the nation’s critical infrastructure was destroyed. Along with the roads, bridges, and dams, the national electric grid was also wiped out. Though it’s been over a month since the hurricane hit, over 60 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack electricity. That means millions of the country’s 3.4 million citizens are without reliable power.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The World Is Not Ours Alone: How Air Pollution Can Affect Our Pets

(Some times we forget that dirty air doesn't just harm people.  Guest blogger Lucy Wyndham explains the impact of air pollution on pets.)

The negative effects of pollution on human health are well-known. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer and asthma attacks are just a few of the health conditions millions of people are forced to face owing to toxic air. Pollution is not just a human problem, however; rather, it also affects our pets, potentially shortening their lives by many years.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Important Reminder: How Outdoor Air Pollution Can Affect Your Lungs

(This guest post by Lucy Wyndham is an important reminder of the dangers associated with dirty air. Lucy has assembled other important information at Pneumonia in seniors )

How Outdoor Air Pollution Can Affect Your Lungs
Air pollution remains to be a threat for a majority of people in the US. According to a report released by the American Lung Association, almost half of the population lives in areas where air pollution levels are often dangerously high. As the World Health Organization notes that air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide, it is imperative to take concrete steps to keep the air clean and prevent it from becoming unfit to breathe in. While some people may reason that they’re unlikely to be affected by outdoor air pollution as they spend a majority of their time indoors, the negative effects of breathing in polluted air cannot be ignored. Here’s how outdoor air pollution can affect your lungs and your overall health.

Dmitry Ermakov

Saturday, September 23, 2017

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Met with Many Corporate Execs -- then Made Decisions in their Favor

(an excerpt from The Washington Post) 

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has met regularly with corporate executives from the automobile, mining and fossil fuel industries — in several instances shortly before making decisions favorable to those interest groups, according to a copy of his schedule obtained by The Washington Post. 

There were, by comparison, only two environmental groups and one public health group on the schedule, which covers the months of April through early September. 

It is the first time Pruitt’s schedule has been made public and it adds to understanding about how he makes decisions...

...he met at EPA headquarters with Fitzgerald Truck Sales, the nation’s largest manufacturer of commercial truck “gliders,” which are truck bodies without an engine or transmission.

On Aug. 17, a little more than two months after meeting with Fitzgerald, Pruitt announced that he would revisit an October 2016 decision to apply greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks to gliders and trailers, saying he was making the decision following “the significant issues” raised by those in the industry.

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said that the manufacturers of gliders have been using their products’ lack of engines to evade stricter air pollution standards, which is why EPA issued its 2016 rule in the first place. “It is a classic special-interest loophole- one that would mean dirtier air and public health damage,” he said.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Guest Post: Hurricane Harvey Shows the Desperate Need for More Renewable Energy

[Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this timely guest post by Emily Folk]

Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is home to numerous oil refineries, chemical plants and legacy superfund sites. The waste chemicals from these facilities leeched into the nearly nine trillion gallons of water Hurricane Harvey dumped on the area last month. Residents are now faced with additional water pollution in the wake of this tragic category 4 storm. The impact of this and future crises can be reduced if the United States converts to more renewable energy sources. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Pollution Control Companies to EPA: Don't Approve Dirty Diesel Truck Loophole

The companies that make and sell pollution control equipment are urging the U.S. EPA NOT to re-open a glaring loophole that would permit trucks to pollute 20-40 times more than new trucks.  In response to a Tennessee company and member of Congress, the EPA recently said it might re-open this loophole -- closed under the Obama EPA -- which would give a break to so-called 'glider kits,' which essentially are truck bodies that can use dirty old engines.  We applaud the efforts by the emission control companies to call attention and object to what would be a step back towards dirtier air.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guest Post: URGENT ALERT-- Add Your Voice to Save California’s Bees and Clean Up our Air

[This is a guest post by Triston Mendez with the California-based Planning and Conservation League]

Every acre plowed up this last spring to grow corn for ethanol delivered a blow to California’s commercial bee colonies and efforts to clean up California’s air.

Growing corn for ethanol has caused the loss of huge swaths of grassland habitat—and plowed under millions of acres of land that California’s commercial bees depend on for summer forage when they are not pollinating crops. California’s commercial bees are essential to pollinating billions of dollars’ worth of crops and employing ten-of-thousands of Californians growing almonds, alfalfa, melons, citrus, avocados, and sunflowers. Destroying more grassland to grow corn for fuel will put already stressed bee colonies in further jeopardy and there are efforts underway in Washington DC to increase the use of corn-ethanol in our fuel from the current 10% (also known as E-10) to 15% (E-15) which will mean millions of more areas of grasslands lost.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Top Seven Cities with the Cleanest Air

[With so much bad news lately, we thought it was time for some good news -- this guest post by Michael Elecho]

Every year, the American Lung Association releases its annual review of the air quality in the United States. Dubbed, “The State of the Air,” this report focuses on letting families and individuals make informed decisions about what cities and areas in the country to live in. This is especially important for people with allergies or other sensitivities to airborne contaminants.
Another facet of The State of the Air address is the list of the cities with the best quality of air in the United States. By looking at the amount of particle pollution and ozone in official monitoring sites, the ALA is able to assess how good the air is across the country and track general trends. Needless to say, emission reductions brought about by the U.S. Clean Air Act have improved air quality throughout the nation. 
The best cities to live in if you’re concerned about air quality, however, are seven cities that ranked top in terms of air quality, with five repeating for the second year in a row. They are located as far north and east as Vermont, as far south as Florida, and as far west as Hawaii. These seven cities are offered in alphabetic order, because they all had zero high particle pollution days all year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Guest Post: Why Isn't Everyone Using More Biofuels?

["Biofuels." It's a raging issue in D.C. Should what some call the "corn mandate" be repealed -- or expanded?  Both Big Oil and Big Corn have deployed Big Lobbyists to duke it out. And major conservation groups such as the National Wildlife Federation have raised big concerns about corn-based ethanol.  NWF celebrates in one skirmish against more corn ethanol.
Guest blogger Emily Folk takes a big-picture look at this controversial issue.]

Why Isn't Everyone Using Biofuels? 
Like many people, you’ve probably heard scientists proclaiming their warning for years: Since fuels like coal and crude oil aren’t renewable resources, our supply will eventually run out. As the amount available becomes increasingly scarce, the cost will go up, too. Nonrenewable fuels also create harmful substances when burned. Because of these obvious problems, some people have suggested biofuels are the way of the future. Is that really the case, though?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ten Good Reasons for the U.S. Senate to Oppose the Smoggy Skies Act

[Update: the House of Representatives did approve the Smoggy Skies Act yesterday by a 229-199 vote, mostly but not exclusively along party lines.  Eleven Republican members voted against.  The outcome was far from a shock, but it was encouraging to see so many opposed.  The legislation now goes to an uncertain fate in the Senate,  The arguments noted below still apply.]

There are plenty of reasons to oppose the Smoggy Skies Act (HR 806) which is coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow. 

 Here are 10 of them:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Guest Post: Air Pollution in North India and What is being done about it!

(On the heels of Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit to Washington, we are pleased to publish this informative guest post by Ms. Sahiba Sadana)

According to an news update in Times of India, India has been reported to have 10 cities in the list of top 20 polluted cities in the world. Air Pollution in India is quite a serious issue, especially in North India. 
According to NASA’s satellite image, Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi are the cities that are covered under the smog blanket more than others. 

Image Source: NASA

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Guest Post: Climate Change: How You Can Make a Difference

[Needless to say, action by the U.S. government on climate change appears doubtful -- for now.  Guest blogger Neil Stawski has some thoughts on what you can do right now.]

Climate change has been on a lot of people’s minds in recent years, and unfortunately it’s not something that will go away anytime soon. With global warming on the rise, it’s becoming clearer that something needs to be done to implement a drastic change. The question is, how do we go about it?  

Photo via Pixabay by Cocoparisienne

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Guest Post: 10 ways technology advances have helped reduce emissions in modern cars

[Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this guest post by Amanda Grison]

Automotive manufacturers have to produce vehicles that are not only fuel-efficient, but which will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. The following are the 10 ways which shows how technology advances have helped reduce emissions in modern cars.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Clean Air Advocates Urge EPA to Reduce Smog in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Across the Eastern U.S.


Sharyn Stein, EDF, 202-572-3396,
Leah Kelly, Environmental Integrity Project, 202-263-4448,
John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340,
Anneka Wisker, Moms Clean Air Force, 202-572-3308,
Stuart Ross, CATF, 914-649-5037,
Trey Pollard, Sierra Club,, 202-904-9187
Jessica Hodge, Earthjustice, 202-667-4500 ext. 5201,
Brook Havlik, WE ACT, 212-961-1000, ext. 320,
Frank O'Donnell, Clean Air Watch, 202-558-3527,
Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, Maryland Environmental Health Network, 443-863-5275,
Peter Iwanowicz, Environmental Advocates of New York, 518-462-5526 x 228,

Clean Air Advocates Urge EPA to Reduce Smog in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Across the Eastern U.S.

(Washington, D.C. – April 26, 2017) A coalition of public health, conservation, and environmental groups representing millions of Americans is going to bat for the states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland in a fight with the Trump Administration over smog.

The three states have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for help reducing air pollution that is blowing across their borders from neighboring states – from power plants that have pollution controls, but are not running them. The pollution is adding to these downwind states’ smog problems and is putting the health of their citizens at risk.

After several months, EPA has not responded to the states’ requests. The Adirondack Council, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Air Watch, Earthjustice, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Integrity Project, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Moms Clean Air Force, Sierra Club, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice have now sent a joint letter to EPA urging the agency to do its job.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Former EPA Staffers, State Environmental Professionals, Assail Proposed EPA Budget

(from an analysis by the Environmental Protection Network, a growing bi-partisan network of more than 75 former employees of the Environmental Protection Agency and related federal and state agencies.)

President Trump’s Budget Blueprint takes an ax to EPA, threatening severe damage to health and environmental programs that have protected Americans for decades. State agency funding is also slashed, even though the Trump Administration is proposing to simultaneously shift more responsibility to the states. The budget further calls for elimination of most EPA climate programs even as the earth continues to warm and climate change impacts grow worse. 

There is no evidence that the cuts are based on any real analysis of changing needs. Steep cuts and elimination of many EPA programs seem to reflect ideological views about the role and value of government programs that protect public health and the environment. The Trump Budget Blueprint for EPA appears to be nothing less than a full-throttle attack on the principle underlying all U.S. environmental laws – that protecting the health and environment of all Americans is a national priority. 
The whole analysis is available at analysis of proposed EPA budget

Friday, February 17, 2017

Senate Vote on Pruitt: Unconscionable -- A Bipartisan Triumph of Special Interests

Many people will have much to say about the Senate vote to confirm Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency.  Here are a few quick thoughts:

It is unconscionable that the Senate would ram this nomination through without knowing all the relevant facts — facts that may be known within a few days.  It is a bipartisan triumph of special interests over the broader public interest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What's Going to Happen to Cheating Companies Under a New EPA? -- a Guest Post

(Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this timely guest post by Gemma Hunt)

While we await a Senate vote on Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an important question lingers in the air: what will happen to enforcement of clean air and water laws under the Trump team?  Will companies feel they can cheat -- and harm the public -- as Volkswagen did?  

The recent Fiat Chrysler incident could be a test case.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Guest Post: Why Clean Energy Matters More Now Than Ever

(Clean Air Watch is pleased to present this timely guest post by Gemma Hunt)

During the election campaign process, President-elect Donald Trump was very vocal about his desire to repel many of the clean energy policies put in place by President Obama. He has threatened to abolish the Clean Power Plan, completely remove all federal funding for clean energy schemes and solutions, and opening up large areas previously unopened to them for oil, coal and gas markets. This will put significant pressure on individual states to continue to fund green energy schemes, block the arrival of big energy companies in their territories, and continue to fulfil the vision of the Clean Power Plan independently. This is something that many states will have neither the desire nor the budget to do, and is the reason why an individual commitment to the use of clean energy matters now more than ever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

GUILTY! Volkswagen Pays Massive Fine in Cheater Scandal; Company Officials Indicted

[from the U.S. Department of Justice]

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Volkswagen AG Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $4.3 Billion in Criminal and Civil Penalties; Six Volkswagen Executives and Employees are Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests

VW to Pay $2.8 Billion Criminal Fine in Guilty Plea and $1.5 Billion Settlement of Civil Environmental, Customs and Financial Violations; Monitor to Be Appointed to Oversee the Parent Company 
Volkswagen AG (VW) has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts and pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty as a result of the company’s long-running scheme to sell approximately 590,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. by using a defeat device to cheat on emissions tests mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and lying and obstructing justice to further the scheme, the Justice Department announced today.
In separate civil resolutions of environmental, customs and financial claims, VW has agreed to pay $1.5 billion. This includes EPA’s claim for civil penalties against VW in connection with VW’s importation and sale of these cars, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claims for customs fraud. In addition, the EPA agreement requires injunctive relief to prevent future violations. The agreements also resolve alleged violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).