|HOW CLEAN IS CLEAN ENOUGH?|
Questions asked in this forum:
When will Govt. agencies be inspected for environmental compliance? Will diesel fuel ever be banned? Should the U.S. instigate a fee-based system to control pollution? What explains the increasing number of asthma cases? Will stricter standards in the U.S. increase pollution from Mexico? What lessons can environmentalists learn from the fight against the cigarette industry? Who controls pollution better: the states or the federal government? Where does a breath of fresh air fit into a cost-benefit analysis?
June 25, 1997:
Margaret Warner leads a discussion of the tougher clean air standards.
June 25, 1997:
Read our Online Forum: U.S.Representatives Julia Carson (D-IN) and Jim Gibbons (R-NV) debated the effectiveness of the EPA.
November 27, 1996:
The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to reduce smog levels by a third.
December 21, 1995:
Spencer Michels reports on the changing role of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Browse the Online NewsHour's coverage of the environment.
Environmental Protection Agency
Citizens for a Sound Economy advocates market-based solutions to public policy problems.
Air Quality Resources on the Internet.
Clean Air Act Information Network
C. Julien of Chassell, MI
I think it is imperative that cleaner air standards be set nationally, not locally. Even the most uninformed must agree that air pollution follows no political boundaries. Why should an asthma suffer have no say in a proposed industry simply because they happen to live a mile (or thousand) outside the County/state which will be the site of this proposed new or expanded industry?
Karen D. Kendrick-Hands of Grosse Pointe Park, MI
To Browner: many of the benefits of cleaner air are not quantifiable. For instance, do health care costs, which cleaner air would reduce reflect the whole picture. Such as the monetary value of lost productivity for parents and children when school is missed. How does one quantify the cost of lost sleep and peace of mind, or loss of scenic views? Wouldn't savings/benefits be bigger if these quantities were included?
I don't understand the research to say that dirty air causes asthma, but once a person has asthma that each episode of dirty air makes the onset of an asthamtic attack more likely. Doesn't it beg the question to say the number of people who experience asthma attacks is up, even though the air is cleaner. Once a person is susceptible to having asthamatic episodes, the levels of current pollution are enough to trigger costly health and life threatening attacks.
For Beckner: Many of the strategies for ozone and PM2.5 control overlap and relate to fossil fuel combustion. More efficient combustion is not only cleaner, it is cheaper. Do your cost estimates add back in the benefit of reduced fuel consumption including improvement of the balance of payments situation at clean air standards accelerate the mover to more efficient combustion. Or perhaps those opposing the standards have a vested interest in business as usual because coal and oil interests only profit when their scarce resources are consumed? Energy efficiency must be added back into the cost/benefit equation.
Charles Ramsey of Ruston, Louisiana
Rather than having the constant organizating of research committees to justify cleaner air standards, why don't we just enforce the current regulations in the hardest form.
Rather than just 'fining' the industries that violate the pollution regulations, why don't we pull their license's and close them down until the corrections are made.
It seems that the larger industries don't have any problems paying the 'fines' and continuing the violations, when the fines are lets say, $5000.00 an incident and the company is making millions in the same time frame.
If you close them down until the corrections are made it would get better results.
We as this nations generation are going to be gone and leave this problem even worst to our children unless more drastic measures are taken to correct these problems.
Todd Irons of Springfield, Virginia
One of the EPA's arguments in support of new clean air standards for particulate matter is the alleged link between airborne particulates and the premature death of asthmatic children. But according to NIEHS, the distribution of asthma cases in other countries fails to link pollution as an aggrivating factor. In fact, NIEHS found that some of the highest asthma mortality rates occur in Australia and New Zealand -- nations which have excellent air quality. How do you explain this?
The projected cost of implementing the EPA's new air quality standards for particulate matter is enormous. The EPA originally estimated compliance costs at $8.5 billion annually. In its final Regulatory Imapct Analysis that figure skyrocketed to $46 billion annually. Has the EPA conducted a cost-benefit analysis on these new standards?
Joseph A. Boothe, Esq. of Arlington, VA
In 1994, in American Lung Association v. Browner, the Agency filed a brief stating that the promulgation of new standards prior to, at least 1998, would open the Ageny to citizen suits based on the argument that any standards promulgated prior to such time would have been implemented in an arbitrary and capricious nature. EPA premised this argument on the fact that they lacked credible scientific data and testing methodology and that whatever data did exist could not be thoroughly reviewed until after 1998. Simply, what has changed since this brief was filed? Either the argument asserted in 1994 was false or the promulgation of the new standards, promulgated in July of 1997 (prior to 1998), was done in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and thus subject to being overturned by the court.
David B. DeRight of Michigan
I've seen two CSPAN programs involving Browner and others on these new EPA regs, have seen several environmental Web page reports (including a letter sent to Congress in support signed by, I believe, 1500 Epidemeologists) on the issue, and have read the recent Consumer Reports magazine article on the issue. And, I support these new regs. I would suggest posing this question to both of your guests: Is the recent Consumers Reports article (see July, August or Sept issue) on the new regs a full and unbiased report on the issue? If so, or if not? Why?
That one article does a very good job of explaining the issue and I see no reason not to support EPA's decision.
Martin Baker of Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Browner makes the argument that the scientific evidence linking mortality to PM 2.5 is clear. However, this information has only been made available to certain individuals (selected by the EPA). Why has this data not been released to the public? Didn't taxpayers fund the compilation of the data in the first place?
The EPA argues that tighter ozone standards are necessary to reduce the instances of childhood asthma. However, the belief in the medical community tends to be that asthma is caused by indoor air quality. Why is it that the EPA has ignored the findings of several medical professionals, and decided to impose standards that do not improve indoor air quality?
Paula Bacon of Albany, Georgia
I too, believe that our air is getting cleaner. Wouldn't the quality of the air continue to improve even if we don't implement the EPA's new standards? I'm sure that estimates for this "wonder program" have got to be in the billions.
Futher, there is obviously a hot debate over the "science" from which the clean air standards were drawn. Why? Rather than rushing in to spend billions of dollars to implement these new standards, shouldn't we first collect more data before new air quality standards are set?
Here in Albany, Georgia, we are fortunate to have a fairly large medical community. As I understand it from the local docs as well as on TV, asthma episodes are primarily a rusult of the quality of indoor air (my son has asthma). Has the EPA ignored these findings from the medical "experts?" It would seem that they would turn their concerns to the quality of indoor air.
Bob Schieve of Sedona, Az.
Question for Carol Browner: Back in the 1930s Oklahoma had dust storms so bad that the people had to SHOVEL the dirt out of their houses (I have a picture of it if you care to see it). Do you think the air in Oklahoma is cleaner today than it was in the 1930s.? I would rather put my trust in God and Mother Nature for clean air than the EPA!
Chad Bailey of Ann Arbor, MI
I'm a graduate student in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.
I know that one critique that industry makes of the EPA is that it values with equal esteem the lives of children, adults, and the aged. By what rationale, other than sheer productive capacity, can you say that people who are old and sick aren't as valuable to the country as strapping young lads and lasses in their primes?
I see a lot of disregard by the policy agencies like the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and your own CSE for the inherent value in human life. Do you think we should adopt a health care policy that "cuts our losses" and merely tends those best able to contribute to our economy?