From: Frank O'Donnell, Clean Air Watch, More from this Affiliate
Published August 4, 2009 10:22 AM

Clean Air Watch: EPA Deserves Passing Grade for Air Plan

The non-profit Clean Air Watch today said the U.S. EPA is on track to get a passing grade for its proposal to deal with dangerous nitrogen dioxide air pollution.

But Clean Air Watch added that the agency was "a long way from an A+" and it urged the EPA to "get that grade up" in order "to protect kids with asthma" and other breathers.

The comments came in testimony at an EPA hearing on an agency proposal to update national clean air standards for nitrogen dioxide. This widespread pollutant originates in traffic exhaust and the emissions from coal burning power plants and other smokestack industries. The current standard was set in 1971.

"This issue is a test for how the Obama administration’s EPA will deal with national clean air standards," noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

"The Bush administration failed miserably. All too often it ignored the science — and the agency’s own science advisers," O’Donnell said.

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"By contrast, we think the new EPA is on track for a passing grade with its proposal for nitrogen dioxide. But it’s a long way from an A+ when it comes to protecting kids with asthma. We think it’s probably more like a B or C right now," depending on a range of options the agency has advanced.

"We’d like you to get that grade up. We think kids with asthma deserve no less than A+ public health protection," said O’Donnell. Clean Air Watch supports the recommendations of the American Lung Association, which has urged tougher short-term and long-term nitrogen dioxide standards in addition to a better system of monitoring.

O’Donnell also noted that "dirty air" is "the forgotten topic when it comes to health care reform."

"It will cost a lot less to keep people out of the emergency rooms. And one way to do this is to reduce dangerous nitrogen dioxide pollution," O’Donnell said.

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of Clean Air Watch.

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