On June 8, the US House passed the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016” While that sounds like our representatives are taking action to keep us safe from air pollutants, it’s just the opposite. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. This includes ozone, lead, sulfur dioxide and more. Under ‘H.R. 4775, Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016’, the EPA would only be required, and thus funded, to review the NAAQS every 10 years.
The current requirement is that EPA review all NAAQS at least every 5 years.
Its appears that the US House decided that keeping safe levels of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and lead in the air we breathe is not important. The Smoggy Skies Act (HR 4775) is a irresponsible attack on clean air and caters to corporations that want permits to pollute at levels beyond national health standards.
The standards in place protect our health and environment, and should be based on science, not considerations of cost and “technological feasibility” for companies that put profits before people. When people breathe in ground-level ozone the health effects include coughing, pain or burning in the lungs, chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath, airway inflammation.
Smog pollution already sends thousands of children to emergency rooms each year and costs Americans’ billions in health care costs, lost productivity, and even premature deaths. Even more disconcerting is that smog pollution disproportionately hurts low income communities and communities of color. Preventing attacks like HR 4775, and implementing the Clean Power Plan is the next essential step in protecting our health.
Kelsey Crane, Reston
Virginia Sierra Club