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E-M:/ ALA statement on EPA's PM 2.5 announcement



Statement of John L. Kirkwood, President and Chief Executive Officer
American Lung Association
On EPA?s PM 2.5 Designations
No one should have to breathe unsafe air. 
December 17, 2004
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.
 

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