A broad, bi-partisan coalition of members of the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency calling for strong limits on smog pollution. The members join national environmental and public health groups and hundreds of physicians, scientists, asthmatics and activists who are demanding that EPA tighten the standard and protect public health.
“The EPA-whose first priority must be to protect public health-needs to listen to the sound science and expert advice of its own advisory panel which is calling for the smog standard to be ‘substantially reduced.’ The agency has the responsibility to strengthen air quality standards to best protect all Americans, especially those in the most high-risk populations such as children, people with lung disease and the elderly,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the letter that 21 of his colleagues signed and sent to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
This June, the EPA proposed lowering the standard for smog, or ozone, from 84 parts per billion to between 70 and 74 parts per billion. This reduction, however, falls far short of the recommendations of EPA’s own scientific advisory panel earlier this year calling for a level between 60 and 70 parts per billion in order to protect public health. The Congressional letter calls for EPA to listen to its scientists and adopt the strongest pollution level to protect public health.
“These 22 members of Congress are sending a strong message that the EPA must carry out its statutory duty to prevent dangerous air pollution,” said Ben Dunham, Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. “Millions of Americans live every day with asthma and other lung diseases that are exasperated by bad air quality. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, smog pollution is choking our cities, towns and neighborhoods.”
Earthjustice, Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society and the American Medical Association are calling upon EPA to adopt the strongest standard to protect public health.
“The EPA should listen to the advice of its own scientists and set a smog standard that protects public health — one that is based on medical science, not political will,” said Alice McKeown. “EPA must not let this opportunity to do the right thing pass it by.”
Smog pollution leads to increased risks of asthma attacks, chest pain, coughing and wheezing, and even premature death. Smog forms when hydrocarbon vapors and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of sunlight and heat.
“The positive impact [of reducing smog pollution] on the health of our citizens is compelling and we believe more than sufficient to warrant a substantial reduction in the current ozone standard,” the members wrote in their letter.
The EPA will accept comments on their proposed standard until Oct. 9. The final standard for smog pollution is due March 2008.
Members signing the letter sent today to the EPA include:
- Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ)
- Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ)
- Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)
- Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL)
- Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
- Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
- Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
- Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)
- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
- Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)
- Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC)
- Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
- Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
- Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA)
- Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
- Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)
- Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY)
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)’
- Rep. David Wu (D-OR)