Sen. Carper Comments On EPA Air Quality Standard

Subcommittee Chairman Continues to Push for Comprehensive Air Quality Legislation

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to strengthen a four-decades-old nitrogen dioxide air quality standard to better protect public health. This decision comes on the heels of other proposals over the last two months to tighten national sulfur dioxide and ozone air quality standards.
Sen. Carper said: “I applaud EPA Administrator Jackson’s decision to strengthen the nitrogen dioxide standard, which hasn’t been changed in almost forty years. As our scientific data improves, we have come to realize how damaging dirty air can be to our health.
“The EPA has tried to regulate big emitters of harmful nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury since the late 1990s, but court challenges have slowed the process and, in many cases, invalidated those proposals, while thousands of Delawareans continue to breathe dirty air.

“It is time for legislation to provide an aggressive – yet achievable – schedule for reducing emissions and alleviating some of our worst health and environmental problems, such as asthma, lung cancer, acid rain and mercury contamination.

“That is why next week, a bipartisan group of senators and I will introduce a multipollutant bill – called the Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 – to move our nation’s clean air laws into the 21st century."

Nitrogen dioxide is formed from vehicle, power plant and other industrial emissions, and contributes to the formation of fine particle pollution and smog. Exposure to smog and fine particles can cause respiratory illness, long-term lung tissue damage, and death.

The EPA’s new ruling updates a 1971 nitrogen dioxide national ambient air quality standard. The EPA is adding a new one-hour standard at a level of 100 parts per billion (ppb) to the existing annual average standard of 53 ppb.

Over the past decade, Sen. Carper has fought to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, along with other dangerous emissions like mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), through various legislative efforts. Currently, he is working on a three-pollutant bill with Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that addresses SO2, NOx and mercury emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.