Sen. Carper: Lung Association Study Shows Stronger Clean Air Laws Needed

WASHINGTON — Ozone and particulate pollution remain dangerously high nationwide, according to study released today by the American Lung Association (ALA), demonstrating that Congress needs to act soon to protect Americans from breathing dirty air that is hazardous to their health, said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The ALA’s State of the Air Report, which ranks cities most affected by ozone (smog) and fine particle (soot) pollution, shows that air pollution remains a serious concern for millions of Americans.   In fact, two out of five people living in the United States live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particulate matter – both serious health hazards for people who suffer from asthma and other lung diseases. 

“We’ve made progress in cutting pollution from power plants and other sources, but, as this report shows, that progress is likely to stall unless we pass stronger clean air laws at the national level,” said Sen. Carper, who chairs the Senate’s clean air subcommittee and who has authored legislation, the Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA), which would reduce power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. “We’ve been pushing for stronger clean air laws for the past eight years, but the Bush Administration and opponents in Congress have blocked our efforts. We need to roll up our sleeves and finally pass updates to the Clean Air Act so that Americans will be breathing even cleaner air in the future.”

Sen. Carper said he will continue to push to add his CAPA legislation to the global warming bill that is expected to be considered by the Senate in June. “As we move to reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it makes eminent sense to demand that power plants also reduce other harmful pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury.   These important issues – global warming and air pollution – go hand-in-hand,” Sen. Carper said. Specifically, CAPA would reduce by 2015 nitrogen oxide levels by 68 percent, sulfur dioxide by 82 percent, and mercury by 90 percent. 

CAPA currently has 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), John Sununu (R-N.H.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.).

“In Delaware, New Castle and Sussex counties, air quality received failing grades, and Kent county’s air quality is not much better.  The 80,000 adults and children in Delaware who suffer from asthma deserve better. Leadership from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency, and passage of CAPA, would help us all breathe easier,” Sen. Carper said.