Kansas City Asks for Clean Air

As part of a National Clean Air Day, governmental officials, public health officials, environmentalists, and concerned citizens  recently gathered in Kansas City  to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen safeguards against smog under the Clean Air Act.

“The new smog limits will help Kansas City breathe easier,” said Jill DeWitt, environmental representative of the air quality forum of Mid-America Regional Council.

The Kansas City metropolitan area has experienced poor air quality related to ozone pollution, which is linked to a variety of public health impacts.  In Kansas City, automobiles, coal plants, and the annual spring burns in the Flint Hills, among other sources, are mostly responsible for high ozone levels.  If implemented, not only will the new standards clear the air, but they will also promote smarter transportation options and spur clean energy development.

“Kansas City has a skilled workforce ready to complete the jobs we need to improve environmental conditions.  These jobs include construction of new wind farms, building smarter transportation infrastructure, and improving energy efficiency of public buildings,” said Chad Manspeaker, Public Affairs Director for Laborers’ Local 1290.

“The proposed ozone standards represent an opportunity for Kansas City to improve our air quality, as well as an opportunity to create green jobs in the process by encouraging clean energy development,” said Richard Mabion, a Kansas City resident.

“The fundamental principles of health are based on prevention and a healthy lifestyle. We can make conscious decisions about diet and exercise, about how much sun we expose our skin to, and so forth. But we cannot make a conscious decision about what type of air we will breathe, which is why it is important for EPA to adopt stronger ozone standards to protect public health,” said Dr. Nicholas Comninellis, a medical doctor and public health scholar.

EPA’s proposal calls for the primary limit for ozone, or smog, to be lowered to between 60 and 70 parts per billion—within the range that doctors and scientists say is protective of human health. The agency is also proposing to lower the secondary limit, which helps to lessen environmental problems like haze.

The Sierra Club would like to see the standards set at the more protective limits for both the primary and secondary standards. These lower levels will do the most to protect public health and help ensure that our natural places and the economies that rely on them are protected.

For more on the proposed rule, please visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/D70B9C433C46FAA3852576A40058B1D4

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