snowy day in Montana

How Would You Rate 2010 for Clean Air Quality?

You may have reflected on last year's events, noting how they changed your disposition – for better or for worse. I know people who use this cathartic ritual to assess their personal growth and make plans for tomorrow.

I was somewhat confused by the American Lung Association's recent release of 2010's 11 biggest "clean air" events, which were issued in honor of the Clean Air Act's 40th anniversary. My expectation was that the list was a celebration of sorts (in honor of), but as we know too well not all anniversaries are happy occasions.

ALA said eight of its highlighted events marked milestones; the remaining three represented delays that can make people sick. The association didn't choose those words, I did. The release stated: "delays that have life-threatening consequences."

The group cited progress for clean air with diesel engines, cement kilns, ships, tailpipes, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, and the Clean Air Transport Rule. The delays refer to:

  • EPA's extension on reducing mercury, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and acid gases from industrial plants, commercial settings and large institutions;
  • smog limits (the third delay since Jan. 2010); and
  • particle pollution limits.

Granted some of these delays are merely a matter of months, or at least that's the word from the agency.

The takeaway I get from ALA President and chief executive officer Charles D. Connor is that good works have been accomplished and must continue to honor the promises made in the Clean Air Act.

Reflecting on the attitude of the new U.S. Congress with some members talking of repealing recently passed legislation, I am grateful the Clean Air Act continues to have the support of the government and the people. Where do business and manufacturing stand?

If all the support grows, do you think a time may come when we no longer need groups like ALA to fight for clean air or is this a ridiculous question?

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Jan 10, 2011