Sen. Carper Supports Tougher Ozone Standards to Protect Health
Subcommittee Chair Says Stronger Standards Require Congress to Pass Stronger Air Pollution Laws
The federal government must tighten ozone safety standards as mounting scientific evidence shows current ozone standards do not protect Americans from such health risks as asthma, lung disease and even premature death, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said at a Senate subcommittee hearing today to examine proposed changes in national air quality standards.
Sen. Carper called for today’s oversight hearing to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. He cited the pyramid of health effects from aggravated asthma, chronic lung disease and mortality that lead to additional economic costs, such as more school and work absences, and more visits to doctors, emergency rooms and hospitals.
In the United States today, 11 percent of adults and 13 percent of children have asthma, and
6 percent of adults suffer from other chronic lung diseases. Sen. Carper stressed that as the federal government strengthens national ozone standards, Congress must also act to strengthen national pollution-control strategies.
“Setting more stringent national air standards must be coupled with a national strategy to help states achieve cleaner air,” Sen. Carper said. “The Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA) that I introduced this year provides a national solution by ensuring power plants reduce NOx emissions, which contribute to many states’ current ozone problems.”
The 2007 version of CAPA would require power plants to drastically reduce their emissions of mercury, as well as the pollutants (nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide) that produce smog and acid rain. Receiving bipartisan support in the Senate and from environmental groups, Sen. Carper’s CAPA bill also would set up a mandatory cap-and-trade program for utilities to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.
Delaware’s three counties all exceed the EPA’s current health standards for the ozone; however, based on recent science detailed in today’s hearing, Sen. Carper said he supports tightening ozone standards to improve health conditions in his home state. As of last year, 53,700 adults and 23,000 children in Delaware suffered from asthma. Each year, 3,000 Delaware children under age of four are hospitalized with asthma.
Hearing witnesses included EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and James Werner, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and environmental control director.