Statement of John L.
Kirkwood, President and Chief Executive Officer
American Lung Association
On EPA?s PM 2.5 Designations
December 17, 2004
No one should have to breathe unsafe air.
Today?s announcement by the United States Environmental Protection
Agency of the PM 2.5 nonattainment areas is long-awaited. Finally,
communities around the country can begin to clean up one of the most
common and dangerous air pollutants: particle pollution, often called
soot. The American Lung Association welcomes today?s decision as the
start of critical work to protect public health. No one should have to
breathe unsafe air. However, the Administration could have done much
more. With the stroke of a pen, EPA could issue a rule that will clean
tons of particle pollution out of the air. Instead, just last
weekend, the Administration decided to gamble with the health of millions
of Americans and set that rule aside.
Today?s action is the equivalent of a diagnosis that millions are exposed
to one of the most dangerous and widespread poisons that exists in the
air. Most at risk are children, the elderly, people with chronic lung and
cardiovascular conditions, and according to mounting evidence, people
with diabetes. At levels in this country today, particle pollution
significantly increases the risk of premature death, lung cancer, chronic
bronchitis and heart attacks. In addition it triggers asthma
attacks, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and leads to increased
trips to the emergency room and hospitalizations for asthma and other
respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Ironically, this action comes just days after the Administration dropped
plans to issue a major rule that would have taken hundreds of thousands
of tons of particle pollution out of the air. The Administration
decided last Saturday to put off the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR),
which would have greatly reduced emissions from one of the largest
sources of particle pollution, dirty coal-fired power plants. Although
the American Lung Association believes that the Rule can be and should be
much stronger and implemented sooner, the CAIR provides an immediate and
workable tool to clean up this deadly pollutant. We urge the
Administration to strengthen and issue the Clean Air Interstate Rule.
In addition, EPA left off the list over 150 counties that contributed
thousands of tons of pollution to problems in nearby
counties. EPA omitted key counties in many areas where
pollution sources, like coal-fired power plants, directly contribute to
the problem. Dropping those counties hurts the ability of many areas to
provide cleaner air for their residents.
Today?s action is crucial, but it is only the first step. It will be many
years before the air in these counties is safe to breathe. Over the past
three decades, experience shows that half-measures fail to do the
job. While today?s action begins the crucial work across the
nation, the Administration has needlessly delayed an important
opportunity to give this nation cleaner air sooner. The American
Lung Association urges President Bush to adopt a strong, aggressive Clean
Air Interstate Rule.
Alex J. Sagady & Associates
Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
PO Box 39, East Lansing, MI 48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org