Federal Clean Air Standards Should Be Strengthened
For Californians, not a day goes by without hearing some
remark referring to smog or the quality of the air they
breathe. One becomes accustom to shrugging such remarks off
without a second thought after a while. Sure the air is
getting cleaner, manufactures and people alike seem to be
doing all they can do to clean up the air they breathe.
Clean air folks are starting to be labeled as
reactionaries. As with every organized group there are
those among them that deserve such labels, but when it
comes down to the air which people have to breathe every
day, extra emphasis is a good thing. Federal and local
regulations along with public support are responsible for
substantial gains in air quality in the last ten years.
"Air quality in Southern California continues to improve,
with 1995 registering some of the lowest levels in decades.
Yet Southern California still experiences the worst air
quality in the nation requiring continued diligence to meet
air quality standards" (!
p.1 Executive Summary, 1997 AQMP). These improvements
provide the grounds for continuing the battle for air
quality instead of grounds for a pat on the back and job
well done. Federal clean air standards should be
strengthened. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
along with an arsenal of reputable agencies have drafted a
plan known as the 1997 Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP)
in which detailed summaries regarding current and future
air quality measures are brought forward for critics and
supporters alike to discern. It is in this plan along with
supporting facts regarding beneficial economic gains and
support from the medical community that make the case for
continuous and stricter air quality standards.
The 1997 AQMP sets fourth the guidelines in which the
Federal government should set standards for state and local
governments along with private agencies to impose and
enforce. The focus of the plan comes as a result of new
understanding regarding pollutants known as ozone and PM10.
This new information flows from countless scientific
studies. For example, "Use of the most current air quality
information (1995), including special particulate matter
data from the PM10 Technical Enhancement Program (PTEP)"
(p.2 Executive Summary 1997 AQMP). There findings show
direct links in ozone and the PM10 pollutants. In chapter
three of the plan one can find the scientific data based on
base year emission levels dating back to 1987 as they
relate to current and future emission levels. Data clearly
show's improvement in Southern California's quality of air
in the ten year period between 1987 and 1997. The data also
provides needed understanding of the major contributors to
smog and !
other ozone depleting pollutants. "Overall, total mobile
source emissions account for 61 percent of the VOC and 88
percent of the Nox emissions for these two pollutants"
(Chapt. 3, 1997 AQMP). The knowledge of this information
has been a major factor in the control of these pollutants
produced by the vehicles driven by millions everyday
weather on the job or just tooling around town with the top
down. While the information in this plan requires a good
deal of scientific knowledge to understand the general
message is clear. Populations are increasing which
increases the demands placed on the environment. Without
continual improvement regarding air quality there will be
massive amounts of ozone depleting emissions created and
unchecked in the environment. This plan should be imposed
by the Federal government. It provides the method for
promising futures not only for the environment but the
economy as well.
Along with the benefits in improved air quality that will
result form the implementation of the 1997 AQMP substantial
gains in technology will be achieved in the areas of zero
emission vehicles and the development of alternative fuels.
"On-road motor vehicles which include passenger cars, light
duty trucks, medium duty vehicles, heavy duty vehicles, and
motorcycles, currently number approximately 10 million in
the South Coast Air Basin" (Chapt.3 1997 AQMP). If this
seems an alarming number of vehicles of which contribute 61
percent of the VOC and 88 percent of the Nox emissions in
the air; you better sit down. "In 1995 these vehicles
traveled more than 300 million miles per day, and by the
year 2010, vehicle miles traveled is projected to be about
380 million miles per day" (Chapt.3, 1997 AQMP). This is an
alarming number of vehicles along with an alarming number
of miles to boot. The implementation of the 1997 plan will
require the sale of zero-emission vehicles beginn!
ing in 2003. This demand places immense pressure on the
automotive industry to come up with suitable alternatives
for the combustion engine. The technology gains from this
industrial effort have already begun to show themselves at
car shows throughout the country. All manufactures will
benefit from this new technology, from those who produce
the batteries that run them to manufacturers of the
lightweight materials needed to produce such automobiles.
The public reaps immediate gains from this technology such
as the cell phone's carried by thousands of people every
day in Southern California. "Some of the most notable
technologies include nickel metal-hydride, lithium-ion, and
sodium-nickel chloride" (Chapt. 3 1997 AQMP). Nickel
metal-hydride batteries are responsible for the ability to
constantly charge ones cell phone battery without it
developing a memory position resulting in limited to no use
of the battery at all. Lithium-ion batteries provide
extended use of many b!
attery operated items used in every day life such as flash
lights, cameras, radios... "Honda and Toyota have announced
they will introduce pilot fleets of electric vehicles with
nickel metal-hydride batteries in 1988" (Chapt.3 1997
AQMP). The examples in technological advancements that
result from stricter air quality controls are endless and
cannot be fully realized without implementation of the
controls described in the 1997 AQMP. As if the available
information thus far were not enough to support the EPA's
plans for air quality, the medical community has stepped
forward to support efforts for cleaner air as well.
The proposed plan clearly benefits air quality and the
economy through advances in technology. Support from the
medical community will convince the stragglers that don't
feel air quality and technology will directly benefit
themselves. "Dr. Barry S. Levy, American Public Health
Association president and an environmental health
physician, called today for the adoption of EPA's proposed
regulations to lower levels of particulate (soot) matter
and ozone (a chemical that helps cause smog) in the air.
This effort will protect children and adults from illness,
disability and death, and reduce health care costs by
billions of dollars" (Washington, Jan. 14 1997, PR
Newswire). Public health is of major concern when it comes
to the environment. The air people breath daily is vital to
their existence and the quality of that air is one of the
major factors to their quality of life. According to DR.
Levy, "The proposed EPA standard are based on well-designed
scientific studies that !
link adverse health effect to the fine particulate matter
and ozone" (Washington, Jan. 14 1997,PR Newswire). The
American Public Health Association (APA) is considered on
of the oldest and largest organizations devoted to public
health. The APA credits itself with some of the top
professionals in the field of public health. They have
conducted more studies and published more information
regarding public health than any other organization of its
kind in the world so when they support the EPA's findings
for stricter air quality control measures they speak for a
vast majority of health professionals. Common sense
requires one to feel a sense of dread at the possibility of
death as a result of poor air quality. The EPA has built a
sound case for enacting stricter air qualities and they
have a great plan for its enactment.
It is clearer now that the adoption of the 1997 AQMP has
far reaching benefits for all. Scientifically sound
evidence points to the reality of cleaner air from the
plans enactment. Increases in technology will create
economic growth and business opportunity. And finally
health risks resulting from poor air quality can be
substantially reduced for both children and adults. The
1997 AQMP also provides measures for meeting the standards
proposed in its regulations. Through, "Intercredit Trading
Program, Air Quality Investment Program and Promotion of
Catalyst-Surface Coating Technology Programs for Air
Conditioning Units. These measures are designed to enhance
compliance flexibility, to facilitate the implementation of
the command and control measures" (Chapt. 4, 1997 AQMP).
The command and control measures of the plan are simply
implementation and enforcement policies which incorporate
assistance and rewards for complying to regulations. Most
of these programs are alr!
eady successfully being operated at the present time. There
is also an Air Quality Assistance Fund which has been
enacted to help small businesses comply with stricter
emission regulations. The plan provides a "loan guarantee
for up to 90 percent of the loan amount, ranging from a
minimum of $15,000 to a maximum of $250,000" (Capt. 7 1997
AQMP). Money can be used for retrofitting operations to the
point of complying with any portion of the AQMP. The plan
provides a complete package from reasons for change through
benefits of such changes right down to the actual
implementation its policy's. It provides areas of
assistance for those who have trouble with compliance and
places adequate emphasis on continued improvement in all
areas regarding air quality. There is little reason
remaining for the Federal government not to enforce
stricter air quality measures. In closing I would like to
leave readers with a little statistical piece of evidence
from a study conducted buy D!
r. Steven Meyer, director of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology's Project on Environmental Politics and Policy.
"'Job growth--not job loss-- is associated with stronger
environmental policies. The 10 states with the strongest
environmental policies appear to have experienced annual
employment growth rates almost .6 percent higher than those
of the 10 states with the weakest environmental policies'"
(p.8, Myths of Jobs Versus Recourses; Meyer). Opponents of
Federal regulations often rely on job scare tactics to kill
a useful initiative such as the one proposed by the EPA but
the facts are, jobs are created when improvements in
technology are made.