Saturday, August 06, 2005

Act for Air Quality & Quality of Life in the Asheville Mountains 

Air quality is vital to the health of everyone.
We all share the air. It has no boundaries.

The notion that any of us single-handedly can claim ownership
of the entire challenge of making sure our kids and grandkids (at least)
breathe easy is outlandish! But we CAN get together at a local level ..
to educate ourselves and act for the well-being of all of us.

Let me know what you think!


on our air quality is provided at my Real Estate home pages
and at the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality site
Go here

an essay:

Here in Western North Carolina , we have a significantly high rate of thermal inversion. Much of this air pollution is imported from our neighboring states. Our region must take the greatest care to protect its air quality: Incineration of any kind is especially inappropriate for Western North Carolina. So with the growing problem with air quality before us, just this past June our Attorney General, Roy Cooper announced an intent to sue the Tennessee Valley Authority under the failure to comply with provisions of the Clean Air Act. We are not an angry bunch here, but anyone in North Carolina looking at the sky on a cloudless day will see a gray(and life-threatening) haze in the distance. That haze is caused by emissions from everything from industry and automobiles, and it calls us to action!

Recently, Dr. Tom Linden from UNC-Chapel Hill reported on causes and effects of air pollution in three different regions of North Carolina.

In Western North Carolina, whose residents are facing more possibilities of respiratory illness because of the air quality here, Linden treks the Blue Ridge Parkway, whose beautiful scenery is now obscured by a brown fog, caused by pollution from coal-fired plants in Western Carolina and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Because coal-fired plants are not governed by the same regulations as some of the more updated industries, they release more sulfates and other toxins into the air, causing increases in incidents of asthma and bronchitis.

Why then would the proposed "Clear Skies" Act" eviscerate the two key Clean Air Act provisions that state attorneys general employ to sue polluting power plants?
Why would it gut the Clean Air Act's New Source Review (NSR) program?

NSR requires power plants to add new pollution controls when they expand their capacity.
But the proposed new plan would reduce the number of situations in which power plants would have to install new pollution control technology! "The approach taken in [Clear Skies] would allow power plant operators to keep plants operating for 100 years without applying modern emission controls," Conrad Schneider of the Clean Air Task Force told a Senate Committee last week.

If NSR is crippled, dirty plants can run indefinitely without reducing their pollution emissions. The AGs trying to protect the public will be able to do nothing about it. Today in North Carolina, where we experience the effects of interstate air pollution, we do have a remedy for our air quality problems. A process (known as Section 126 petitions) allows our Attorney General to file a petition if a neighboring state is out of compliance with Clean Air Act standards. This Section 126 petition asks the EPA to take action against out-of-state sources that are fouling its air. In fact, this is the petition that Attorney General Cooper filed against plants in 13 states last March. (Northeastern state AGs filed similar petitions in the 1990s against Midwestern and Southeastern power generators.)

Here's what concerns us: When the EPA acts on a Section 126 petition, it usually gives the targeted power plants about three (3) years to clean up their stacks. But Clear Skies would block any Section 126 fixes until 2014, giving polluters a nine ( 9) year pass. Even after 2014, states asking for EPA's help to crack down on out-of-state plants would have to show they have applied every single more cost-effective measure at cutting pollution. The Clean Air Task Force's Schneider calls this "an impossible showing."

I asked reliable sources about the possibility of this action having to do with partisan politics.
hey informed me that, " Republicans and Democrats alike support a strong role for the states in protecting the environment, a principle known as cooperative federalism." As an example, GOP governors George Pataki of New York and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California last month reminded the Senate that "states do the majority of the work to carry out [the Clean Air Act's] mandates." The governors asked the Senate to "protect the cornerstones" of the Clean Air Act, specifically the strong role of the states.

INFORMATION on our air quality is provided at my Real Estate home pages
www.janeAnne.com and at the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality site http://www.wncair.org/

Go here

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