The EPA has received a letter from the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the agency to set strong limits on smog pollution. The Congress has, by this action, joined a growing group of environmental and public health groups, such as Earthjustice, Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society and the American Medical Association, as well as numerous physicians, scientists, asthmatics and activists, all of whom want the EPA to tighten up the standard for the protection of public health. The bi partisan coalition of Congressmen who signed the letter is made up of the following members.
Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA)’, David Wu (D-OR), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI),
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brad Miller (D-NC)
Back in June, the EPA proposed lowering the standard for smog, or ozone, from 84 parts per billion to between 70 and 74 parts per billion. While this is an improvement, it still falls short of the recommendations that were made by the agencies own scientific advisory panel which issued their recommendation of between 60 and 70 parts per billion earlier this year.
Smog pollution is responsible for increased risks of asthma attacks, chest pain, coughing and wheezing, and can even lead to premature death. Smog is formed when hydrocarbon vapors and nitrogen oxides react with each other in the presence of sunlight and heat.
The letter calls on the EPA to listen to its own scientists and adopt the strongest level.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), is the author of the letter and he states that the first priority of the EPA must be to protect the public health needs and they must listen to the advice of its own scientists who are calling for the smog standard to be substantially reduced.
Ben Dunham, Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice, states that the members of Congress have sent a strong message to the EPA saying that the agency must carry out its obligation to prevent dangerous air pollution.
In part, the letter says that the positive impact of the reduction in smog pollution on the public health is compelling and they say they believe it is more than sufficient to warrant a substantial reduction in the current standard.
The EPA will be accepting comments from the public until October 9 and the final standard is due in March of 2008.
Source: Earth Justice http://www.earthjustice.org/