Air Pollution: Scotland Says No, USA Says Yes
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Polluters Ignoring Safety, Economics
Air Pollution: Scotland Says No, USA Says Yes
Scotland is taking steps to reduce air pollution, while the USA is taking steps to increase air pollution.
There is a third way — decide scientifically, not with lobbyists, how much pollution of each type can be “digested” by the world’s ecosystem, and auction off the special privilege for making that pollution — if polluters have to pay the full free market price for the privilege of polluting, most of them will find other, cleaner ways to do business. And citizens will enjoy greater public revenue and less pollution.
Meanwhile, here are some notes on what is happening in Scotland and the USA as they march in opposite directions to make air quality better and worse.
The toughest targets for particulate air pollution levels in the UK and new tighter targets for benzene and carbon monoxide came into force in Scotland on June 12 with the introduction of the Air Quality (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2002.
Scotland has set the new targets ahead of the rest of the UK, which is still assessing results of the September 2001 review of three pollutants from the eight identified in the UKs Air Quality Strategy as being of particular concern for human health. A new objective for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is due shortly.
On top of the generally good air quality in Scotland, new policy measures have produced significant reductions in air pollution levels in recent years, according to the Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Allan Wilson. But the latest advice from our health experts shows that the long term effects of particle air pollution continue to have an effect on the health of vulnerable individuals, says Wilson.
The new benzene and particles targets are long-term – to be achieved by the end of 2010 – and supplement the current objectives to be achieved by the end of 2003 and 2004. The new carbon monoxide target replaces the current one, which was to be achieved by the end of 2003.
from the United States:
The Bush administration on Thursday said it will relax costly air pollution rules when U.S. utilities are repaired or expanded, triggering a storm of protest from pollution opponents, citizens, environmental groups, Greens and even some Democrats.
The move by the Environmental Protection Agency came after months of lobbying by U.S. utilities and industry.
The changes to the agency’s New Source Review program – which is part of the Clean Air Act – amounts to “the promise of eternal life” for old power plants, said Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA enforcement chief who resigned in March to protest what he said was a push to weaken pollution laws by the Bush administration.
If enacted, the new rules would “basically mean that no existing power plants would ever have to get cleaned up,” said David Hawkins at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called the EPA plan an “extraordinary example” of rolling back protections and accused the Bush administration of “fast becoming the most enviro- unfriendly administration in 20 years.”
Independent Sen. Jim Jeffords and Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman called the new rules the biggest rollback of the Clean Air Act in history. Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the EPA plan “ensures that NSR will now mean New Sources of Respiratory Disease.”
The new rules give industry “virtual free rein to increase their emissions … without any oversight from the government,” said Lieberman, a potential 2004 presidential hopeful.
Jeffords, the chair of the Senate Environment Committee, said he will hold a joint hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine the administration’s decision-making process on the New Source Review program. Corruption charges may result if the move is found to be, as some have charged, a “payback for big utility campaign contributions” during the 2000 election.
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he will sue the administration over the new pollution laws in a federal court.
EPA chief Whitman expressly contested the assertion that the new rules represent a rollback. “We are not rolling back the Clean Air Act,” she said at first. However, the truth became clear when the Bush administration announcement received across-the-board rave reviews from polluter groups, representing refiners, petrochemical, manufacturers, and petroleum sectors.
Thanks to the Reuters news agency for the US information and to edie.net for the Scotland information.
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