Despite ongoing interference from Big Polluters and some Members of Congress, the Lung Association in Massachusetts and its allies have made progress on cleaning up the air and will work to continue to do so throughout the coming year, using the Agenda as a roadmap.
The Agenda is organized into four key areas of focus with additional details as to which regulations, rules or activities will remain of focus within each area. These include:
· Smokestacks – Clean up coal-fired power plants (both existing and new)
Power plants, in particular those fired by coal, are a major source of hazardous pollutants, and are the biggest source of carbon pollution that is linked to climate change.
· Tailpipes – Clean up gasoline and vehicles
The EPA needs to update standards to control smog-forming and particle pollution from passenger vehicles by reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline and setting tighter tailpipe pollution limits on new vehicles.
· Funding Research & Enforcement
Preventing additional cuts to the EPA will enable the agency to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health and meet national clean air goals.
· Implementation without weakening or delays
To truly improve the health of millions of people across the nation and save thousands of lives every year, full implementation of all Clean Air Act updates, rules, and standards is needed – without threats to these life-saving protections.
“In the coming year, it is important that polluted air continue to be viewed and understood as a pervasive threat, affecting our most vulnerable populations here in Massachusetts,” said Katie King, Director of Public Policy of the American Lung Association in Massachusetts. Some of those who are most susceptible to air pollution include children, seniors, those with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, people with low incomes, and those who work and exercise outdoors.
King expressed concerns that the looming, automatic federal budget cuts due on March 1 will harm public health by reducing the EPA’s ability to monitor air quality, ensure compliance with air pollution laws, and enforce violations. “Without an environmental cop on the beat, we could be subjecting the residents to breathing dirtier air and jeopardizing their health,” she said.
The American Lung Association’s 2012 State of the Air Report found that 2.7 million Massachusetts residents, more than a third in the state, live in a county with failing air quality. Six counties received an F grade for ozone pollution.
By identifying these four critical areas of focus, and key solutions for addressing each, the Lung Association in Massachusetts will be able to devote focused efforts to the life-saving work that protects the Clean Air Act and the health of millions of people across the country and here in the Bay State.