- August 14 - All too familiar with that burning sensation in their eyes and throat
brought on by the smog in the air, Washington, DC area residents are suffering
through the 33rd unhealthy air day of 2002 today, and for the fifth day in a row,
air pollution levels have exceeded the federal health standard.
This morning, children, the elderly, people with asthma or heart disease, and
even healthy adults heard a now-familiar warning to limit outdoor activity. This
warning came as the U.S. EPA took another step toward weakening clean air rules
to allow power plants, refineries and other major industrial sources of pollution
to escape requirements to install modern pollution controls.
"The smog that is choking Washington this summer should sound the alarm
at the White House that this is not the time to retreat on clean air," said
Rebecca Stanfield, Clean Air Advocate for U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
"Unfortunately for public health, even during a smog crisis, the Bush administration's
dedication to the polluters' agenda appears unflinching," she continued.
Based on data from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, it has
been unhealthy to breathe the air in the Washington DC area on ten of the last
fourteen days. In addition:
- During June, July and the first half of August, the air quality in the DC-area
has been smoggy enough to create health problems nearly every other day.
- DC area air quality has been deemed "good" on only sixteen days
since June 1, or on one out of every five days.
- Smog levels in the DC area exceeded the old, less-protective health standard
that was replaced by EPA in 1997 eight times so far this year, tying with 1993
for worst air quality in the last decade based on that standard.
According to a report published yesterday by the Bureau of National Affairs,
"Changes to regulations that would allow companies to avoid enforcement actions
under the new source review air pollution program were sent to the White House
Office of Management and Budget Aug. 13 for review." This is the last step
in the regulatory process before EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman signs
the changes into law.
"Administrator Whitman can still decide against signing this rollback,"
said Stanfield. "If she's breathing the same air we're breathing this summer,
she can find the will to stand up to the polluters and do the right thing for
U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state Public Interest
Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy
see Exceedances and Ozone Action Days as of August 13, 2002 - http://www.pirg.org/alerts/route.asp?id2=7598