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Protesters Rally Outside Kansas City EPA Office
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Several Kansas City-area activists rallied Tuesday outside the regional Environmental Protection Agency office to express their support for proposed rules stiffening the Clean Air Act and reversing rules imposed by Pres. George W. Bush.

“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," said Dr. Nicholas Comninellis, a medical doctor and public health scholar at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "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.”

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

The Kansas City metropolitan area has experienced poor air quality related to ozone pollution, which is linked to a variety of public health impacts, said Stephanie Cole, of the Kansas Sierra Club. In Kansas City, automobiles, coal plants, and the annual spring burns of pastures in the Flint Hills, among other sources, are mostly responsible for high ozone levels, she said. The new standards would clear the air, but would 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," said Chad Manspeaker, public affairs director for Laborers’ Local 1290. "These jobs include construction of new wind farms, building smarter transportation infrastructure, and improving energy efficiency of public buildings.”

Under the proposed rule, the "primary limit" for ozone, or smog, would be lowered to between 60 and 70 parts per billion. That's the range that doctors and environmental scientists say is protective of human health.

“EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face, said Lisa Jackson, EPA administration, when the new proposed regulations were issued in January. "Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities, and drives up our health care costs across the country.

“Using the best science to strengthen these standards is a long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.”

The EPA said that depending on the level of the final standard, the proposal would yield health benefits between $13 billion and $100 billion. Estimated costs of implementing this proposal range from $19 billion to $90 billion, the EPA said.

In March 2008, the Bush Administration drew harsh criticism from environmental and health experts by ignoring the advice of EPA experts and raising the limit to 75 parts per billion. Several health and environmental groups sued the EPA over the changes.

The Obama Administration pledged to reverse the Bush changes.

Another part of the proposal is to set a "secondary limit" which deals with ozone pollution over seasonal periods.

Some EPA documents show that President Bush prevented the EPA from setting secondary standards, which added to the furor.

Several business groups and trade groups -- such as utility, petroleum and manufacturing -- have fiercely opposed the proposals, saying the changes will cost millions of jobs.

Some rural government officials are also sounding the alarm because if the standards are tightened up, they'll suddenly be forced to deal with them, even though they say that their counties generate little ozone pollution and that it comes from elsewhere.

The EPA will take public comment on the proposed rule until March 22.

For more on the proposed rule: https://www.yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/D70B9C433C46FAA3852576A40058B1D4.

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Added: March 23, 2010. 01:53 PM CDT
Money available to clean air and improve smog program

Charlie Peters, Clean Air Performance Professionals, March 22, 2010

The Smog Check issue has been under continuous legislative debate since 1993. AB 2289 by Eng is an opportunity to improve program performance and public support.

We at the Clean Air Performance Professionals propose “reasonably available control measures” to improve California Smog Check performance. Consider a Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) quality audit to improve smog check performance.

We propose using the CAP cars and funds to provide a random quality audit (or secret shopper) of smog check providers. Audits that result in the car’s not being in compliance should be handled similarly to the former Consumer Repair and Education Workforce program. The Bureau of Automotive Repair program did not fine the licensees nor did it involve coercion. But when the question of “what would you like to do?” was asked, the shop took care of business and usually elected to fix the car.

The average smog check failure repair is about $ 150.00 state wide. The motorist pays about the same at the average repair station and the CAP station. The average CAP repair is about $350.00. Many cars are not brought into compliance.

To level the smog check failure repair playing field so more cars meet standards after repair, the whole smog check market should be subject to a CAP random audit.

Around 1985, BAR started a “missing part” audit. In 1991 that program was stopped, The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part.

When BAR ran less than one audit per station per year, the result was a change in behavior that started at more than an 80 percent rate, but moved to less than 20 percent rate of noncompliance.

The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part. If the CAP audit was addressing the issue of repair compliance rather than just finding a missing part, the results may be the same or a 300 percent improvement in compliance. With the missing part program, a follow-up audit with increasing demands lift the stations no options but to find the missing part or be removed from the game.

There are huge inconsistencies from Smog Check station to station and with BAR representatives. For BAR to decide a car is not in compliance, rules of Smog Check must be clarified. Money is available for the CAP program. It can be used for contracted scrap and repairs, or some of the funds can be used to evaluate and support improved performance of licensed small business. The cars and funds are the same, but the results may be credit for 2,000 tons per day in pollution prevention credit in the State Implementation Plan, rather than our current credit of fewer than 400 tons per day.

The governor and state Legislature would get the credit for improved performance. Performance improvements would be accomplished at a cost of less than $500.00 per ton. And program illusions would be reduced in 1 year.

Charlie Peters is president of Clean Air Performance Professionals.

CAPP contact: Charlie Peters (510) 537-1796 [email protected]
Charlie Peters
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