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E-M:/ Sierra Club Press Release: Clean Air: EPA Proposal Will Help Reduce Smog

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>

For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2007

David Willett, 202-675-6698

                        A Small Breath of Fresh Air
                    EPA Proposal Will Help Reduce Smog

Washington, DC: Statement of Sierra Club air analyst Alice McKeown in
response to new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone (smog)
proposed today by the EPA.

"While we are pleased that the EPA is finally taking the first step toward
removing harmful smog pollution from our air, the proposal falls far short
of the smog reductions needed to adequately protect public health.
Additionally, we are concerned that EPA's willingness to consider keeping
the current standard will turn out to be an escape route that allows the
EPA to hide from its duties and do nothing at all to make our air safer.

"The EPA has finally started listening to scientists and public health
groups who have long called for tighter smog safeguards. Unfortunately, the
smog reductions proposed by the EPA do not come close to the reductions
that groups like the World Health Organization and the American Medical
Association and even the EPA's own scientists say are necessary to protect
public health.

"Though the proposed rule would help ensure that many more Americans
enjoyed clean air, it would still leave millions at risk from the serious
health risks posed by smog pollution, including lung damage, increased
asthma attacks and even premature death.  To protect our children, seniors
and other vulnerable groups, the smog safeguards must be strengthened."


EPA Press Release
News for Release: Thursday, June 21, 2007

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Stronger Standards for Smog Proposed

Contact: Jennifer Wood, (202) 564-4355 / wood.jennifer@epa.gov  or
John Millett, (202) 564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov 

(Washington, D.C. - June 21, 2007) EPA is proposing to strengthen the
nation's air quality standards for ground-level ozone, revising the
standards for the first time since 1997. The proposal is based on the most
recent scientific evidence about the health effects of ozone -- the primary
component of smog.

"Advances in science are leading to cleaner skies and healthier lives,"
said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "America's science is
progressing and our air quality is improving. By strengthening the ozone
standard, EPA is keeping our clean air momentum moving into the future."

The proposal recommends an ozone standard within a range of 0.070 to 0.075
parts per million (ppm). EPA also is taking comments on alternative
standards within a range from 0.060 ppm up to the level of the current
8-hour ozone standard, which is 0.08 ppm.

Ozone can harm people's lungs and EPA is particularly concerned about
individuals with asthma or other lung diseases, as well as those who spend
a lot of time outside, such as children. Ozone exposure can aggravate
asthma, resulting in increased medication use and emergency room visits,
and it can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.

The United States has made significant progress reducing ground-level ozone
in the past quarter century. Since 1980, ozone levels have dropped 21
percent nationwide as EPA, states and local governments have worked
together to continue to improve the nation's air.

Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created
through a reaction of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound
emissions in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial
facilities, electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and
chemical solvents are the major man-made sources of these ozone precursors.

EPA also is proposing to revise the "secondary" standard for ozone to
improve protection for plants, trees and crops during the growing season.
The secondary standard is based on scientific evidence indicating that
exposure to even low levels of ozone can damage vegetation. EPA is
proposing two alternatives for this standard: a standard that would be
identical to the "primary" standard to protect public health; and a
cumulative standard aimed at protecting vegetation during the growing

EPA is estimating the health benefits of meeting a range of alternative
ozone standards based on published scientific studies and the opinion of
outside experts. These findings will be detailed in a Regulatory Impact
Analysis to be released in the next few weeks, which will include both the
estimated costs and benefits. EPA projects that health benefits of the
proposed standard could be in the billions of dollars. However, EPA does
not consider costs in setting ozone standards.

The agency will take public comment for 90 days following publication of
the proposal in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings.
The hearings will be held in Los Angeles and Philadelphia on Aug. 30, and
in Chicago and Houston on Sept. 5.

Learn more about EPA's proposal to strengthen standards for ground-level
ozone: http://epa.gov/groundlevelozone/ 

Note: If a link above doesn't work, please copy and paste the URL into a

David Willett
National Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698 (w)
(202) 491-6919 (m)

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