The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brian Willis, (202) 675-2386,

Sierra Club Applauds Proposed Protections from Smog Protection

EPA’s smog policy assessment is a critical step toward protecting public health, saving billions in health costs, and holding polluters – not communities – accountable for their pollution


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new policy assessment concluding that a new smog pollution standard must be lowered from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) standard to a standard in the 60-70 ppb range if it is to protect the public's health. The standard was last updated in 2008 when the Bush administration rejected the recommendations of another committee of experts, who warned of the terrible consequences of adopting a weak 75 ppb standard. The science is clear that the current standard does not protect us from pollution and a new standard should be set no higher than 60 ppb. Smog pollution from power plants and vehicle emissions trigger respiratory problems like asthma and cardiovascular problems; over time, exposure can lead to premature death. A 60 ppb standard will shield communities, especially young children and the elderly, from these health hazards, will save billions of dollars in economic benefits from health improvements, and will help lift the burden of pollution off American communities.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign Director, issued the following statement:

"The EPA's smog pollution policy assessment confirms again that the current standard does not adequately protect the health of our communities and that we need a more restrictive standard. The science is clear that the existing standard must be lowered, and we strongly encourage the agency to limit this pollution to 60 ppb when they announce the proposed standard in December.

"Scientists have shown that nothing above 60 ppb level is safe and 70 ppb is far too high if we intend to protect the lungs of young children and senior citizens.

"Today's assessment is an important step toward holding polluters accountable and lifting the burden of their pollution off our communities. According to the EPA's own findings, a 60 ppb standard would prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 21,000 hospitalizations, and the loss of 2.5 million work and school days a year. This is in addition to the estimated $100 billion in economic benefits from health improvements.

"Between these numbers, thousands of lives hang in the balance, particularly the lives of young children with asthma. We stand with the EPA and in the months ahead, and will work to ensure a strong standard that holds polluters accountable and adequately protects the health of American communities."

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

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