Clear the Smog: Saying Thank You to Administrator Jackson

BY ON September 5, 2011

Dominique BrowningWe’re reeling from the president’s perplexing, dismaying, incomprehensible, indefensible – pick your position on the spectrum of bad to worse adjectives with which environmentalists have responded – decision not to ramp up ozone regulation. But we would be wise not to see President Obama’s record as completely dismal–and give up. There’s a serious amount of work to do this fall to support EPA funding, and other critical air pollution regulations. They have an enormous impact on our children’s health.

Final regulations for cross-state air pollution, for instance, were issued in July–to go into effect in January 2012. They are now causing a furor in Texas, one of the 27 states that will be affected by the new regulation. This ruling applies only to coal-fired power plants, just like the ones affected by the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Opponents of air pollution regulations will only be emboldened by the President’s recent ozone decision.

The cross-state air pollution rule, so named because it regulates emissions that come out of one state, but pollute across state lines, targets nitrogen dioxide, a precursor of ozone (neatly wrapping in at least one major source of ozone pollution, though it doesn’t help with emissions from cars, trucks, and other sources of ozone.)

The rule also targets sulfur dioxide, which damages lungs. Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid formation in the atmosphere, and rains down on our water bodies and contaminates our food. It contributes to neurological, developmental disorders. The cross-state rule is important because it means that people in states in which plants have cleaned up their act–and there are many–won’t have to breathe the polluted air from their lax neighbors. The Christian Post has a good article on the top 20 states with the most toxic air. New Hampshire is included–that was a surprise to me; that’s important for residents of Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, among others.

Naturally, opposition to the cross-state ruling has centered around “job-killing” “profit-killing” “economy-crippling” claims by coal industry lobbyists. Those claims have been shown not to materialize–or to be extremely short term in duration. New engineering, technology, and enforcement jobs come online with new regulations. Power plants are forced to spend money to upgrade and even replace plants, creating jobs–and they are sitting on the cash to do so; they don’t get it from the government.

As actor and activist Robert Redford eloquently wrote recently:

“The fact is, federal safeguards for public health, worker safety and our environment generated up to $655 billion in measurable economic benefits over just the past decade, at a cost to industry of $62 billion — at most — according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Even on a strict economic analysis, in other words, the national benefits of federal safeguards outweigh costs by more than 10 to 1. Read the report for yourself.”

Power suppliers are threatening outages and blackouts while they get into compliance. The Texas Attorney General’s office has announced that it will pursue “every available legal remedy” to block the new ruling.

Of course, the power plants do not take into account the health costs of treating people sickened by air pollution–because they don’t pay those families’ bills. Even so, you would think they would care about children’s health. But they share the same lack of concern that tobacco growers and cigarette makers did about cancer: they denied and ignored mounting science on pernicious health effects. Houston has had skyrocketing asthma rates with children suffering the most, missing school and being hospitalized for treatment.

The EPA has said in response to opponents that Texas “has an ample range of cost-effective emission reductions options” for complying with the rule “without threatening electricity reliability or the continued operation of coal-burning units.”

“No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in July.

In a defensive measure, The White House has responded to the outcry from the environmental community about the president’s punt on ozone by posting a review of environmental protections it has enacted in the last two and a half years, including fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks, and the first-ever standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks.

Administrator Jackson is a mom–and one tough political pro. She can’t be out there fighting the EPA battles alone. We lost a big one, with the ozone regulations. But we’re going to have to stay focused on what’s coming up. So I, for one, am sending Administrator Jackson a HUGE thank you, and a shout-out for all she’s been doing on behalf of clean air.

Moms Clean Air Force is fighting for our children’s health–because air pollution isn’t just dirty–it is poisonous. Please join us, and together we’ll keep the pressure mounting on Washington to do the right thing: End pollution. Administrator Jackson, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your brave and inspiring work on behalf of the health of all people–and most especially, our children. They can’t fight for themselves. They’re counting on us.


TOPICS: Asthma, Coal, Economics, Politics, Pollution


    Obama just updated NSPS stds to ambiant pm stds. Says ozone std coming soon. EDF and env groups championed this. Hurray! NSPS stds had been violating ambiant pm stds for 50 years. These things take time. Reductions to the car pollution problem are coming slowly with more efficient cars, nat. gas cars and hybrids. I have a child with asthma and the ozone is nothing compared to the pm from wood smoke and the 180 air toxics that accompany that.

    So push for ozone and continue the car pollution fight. But do it with some praise for the great things Obama has done too. I have the same problem. My house was engulfed in wood smoke so I got active and did somethings including stopping the pollution on my house and I want more. But I have to be thankful for the blessings that have come my way even as I try to recruit Moms for Clean Air to join others like the ALA in tackling this newly emerging public health problem as the ALA called it. Wood smoke is said to be worse than second hand smoke and the ozone problem in many situations. See The International Coalition Aagainst Wood Burning Pollution (not all wood burning) for pictures of cities engulfed in wood smoke.The problem of air pollution seems more a problem of existing laws not being enforced. So EDF could possibly get more bang for it’s buck by pushing for enforcement of existing laws on wood smoke nuisances and ozone than pushing for new stds. This pollution is worse and can be stopped with existing law and education. So why not educate on this while you call for more expensive action on ozone? 90% dislike tobacco smoke and 80% want enforcement of nuisance laws for woodsmoke problem areas per Fort Collins polling. An article here or there is cheap, especially when you do not have to write it, and the public will love it and maybe donate to do more. Keep up the good work.

  • I agree that we should be thanking, supporting and encouraging Lisa Jackson in her fight for clean air!


    It is great that Lisa Jackson is on our side too. Part of Me and My 1000 Moms. Hurray! Sec Clinton too with her initiative to reduce global warming “Internationally” by reducing wood smoke air pollution as much as possible. Personally I like the EDF initiative explained by EDF Atty Silverburg to convert stoves to gas or as I suggested to Maine officials: gasifying wood in gasifier boilers if large scale pyrolysis is too expensive which seems to be true. Hurst Co says they can meet any std and maybe they will even be carbon nuetral possibly. Let em try as long as they meet future pm pollution stds and health guidelines.

    But our biggest ally in this coalition building is God. In the USA, Jesus is our best friend. He warned about the ifre and smoke at the burning dump of Ghenna but the air pollution warning got lost with the mistranslation of Ghenna into Hell. Scary imagery utilized by New England hell fire preachers and lately a Book by a Clintonite: Hell and High Water. How do I know Jesus was warning about air pollution? St Jerome’s Essene Gospel of Peace. St Jerome translated and chose the books for the Bible and he wanted the Essene Gospel of Peace there with its empahsis on clean fresh air you can find in the forests and the fields in the country where Jesus grew up. And as Katherine Kuhlman of PGH said: Nothing is impossible with God on your side. We can help God create a better world when we come together with a collective consciousnees or will power united with God’s and take care of the most important thing in the Garden; Clean Air. We must love or care for our neighbors too. It’s law.

  • You Got the UN and Whole World on your side

    Remember the song: He’s Got the whole world in his hand. Well you have the whole world on your side in a way with the UN on your side. They have been talking about air pollution of all kinds for a long time from the 150 mcg/m3 pm in Salt Lake City from steel mills to the 150 mcg/m3 from coal plants in Denver to the 150 mcg/m3 wood smoke in Olympia, Washington to the 200 mcg/m3 pm from everything in Bejing and the 1,500 mcg/m3 pm from coal fireplaces in London in the 1950’s in the London Fog Air Pollution Disaster that started this whole clean air movement.

    So keep building the coalition. Moms, dads, small groups, large. It was a coalition of all the environmental groups that got the Carbon Black Soot Bill passed in the House. It did not pass in the senate but the bill had an effect. It spauned the EPA and State Dept wood smoke reduction efforts. Maybe even helped spaun the NSPS stds that are going to dramitically reduce the pm for Utah moms, and people all over the USA.