Perdue administration pushes to block tougher ozone rules

Putting industry profits ahead of health concerns:

One of the strongest appeals came from North Carolina, a state Mr. Obama narrowly won in 2008. The state’s governor, Bev Perdue, a Democrat, argued against the new ozone rule. Her air quality director, B. Keith Overcash, wrote the E.P.A. pleading for a delay. “Lack of employment, loss of health care, and in some cases, loss of a home, also affect the health of our citizens,” he said.

Tough election season looming or not, actions like this must not go unchallenged. You're not the Director of Scary Propaganda, you're the Director of Air Quality. Act like it. When you join the ranks of these types:

For the West Wing gathering that day, Jack N. Gerard, the pugnacious head of the American Petroleum Institute, brought maps showing the areas that would be out of compliance with the proposed regulation in a vivid swath of red states across the Midwest and along the East Coast, states that Mr. Obama won in 2008. They did not need to spell out the implications.

“The maps were on the table,” said Khary Cauthen, director of federal relations for the petroleum group and a White House environmental adviser in the Bush administration. “One of the C.E.O.’s had a whole spiel he was going to do, ‘This is so bad here, so bad there,’ but Daley shut him up. He was like, ‘I got that.’ ”

John Engler, the former Republican governor of Michigan and president of the Business Roundtable, noted the burden to state and local officials. “I told him, ‘When there’s a cloud over your head about whether you’re going to be able to meet the new standard, you’re likely to lose new business to some other state,’ ” Mr. Engler said, referring to Mr. Daley.

“The governors had a big role,” Mr. Engler said. “They were very helpful.”

Then you've upset the formula that seeks to balance our need for a clean environment with our need for a healthy economic engine. Industry has a well-spring of well-paid advocates, and it doesn't need NC's protector of air quality to be one of them.

While you won't find Overcash's letter to the EPA at the DAQ site (I wonder why?), you will find a few of these:

Air quality officials have issued a health notice for air pollution in the Charlotte metropolitan area on Friday.

Forecasters have predicted Code Orange conditions, which means that air quality in Charlotte is likely to be unhealthy for sensitive groups. People who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moderate exertion outdoors. Sensitive groups include: children and older adults; people who work or exercise outdoors; people with heart conditions; and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory ailments.

The primary pollutant of concern is ozone, a highly reactive form of oxygen. Ozone can be unhealthy to breathe, and high levels generally occur on hot sunny days with stagnant air.

The air pollution forecast for Friday predicts that ozone levels in Charlotte will exceed the federal standard of 75 parts per billion averaged during eight hours. High ozone levels can impair breathing and aggravate symptoms in people with respiratory problems, and irritate the lungs in healthy individuals. People with chronic lung ailments, older adults and children should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity in the afternoon, when ozone levels are highest.

And just to give you an idea of what industry reps think about all those health concerns:

Although she was under intense pressure from business and Congressional Republicans over the proposed rule, Ms. Jackson believed the White House would back her. In mid-July, she hosted a delegation of trade group officials at E.P.A. headquarters so they could present their concerns. Among those present were leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the American Petroleum Institute.

They tried a hard sell, according to R. Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, noting that the new rule would push hundreds of counties out of compliance with the Clean Air Act and force them to devise costly new air pollution control plans. They suggested she wait until the next review in 2013.

“Lisa is very smart, cordial, friendly,” Mr. Josten said of Ms. Jackson. “She listened to us, but then talked about how important it was to do this, the lung thing, the asthma thing, the kids’ health thing. She felt it was important to go ahead.”

The categorization of those extremely important health issues as "things" is evidence of a complete detachment on the part of business. It's not their thing, it's somebody else's thing. And that somebody else is supposed to be you, Mr. Overcash.

Comments

Don't take this as any form

of endorsement, or a change of allegiance, or anything else other than a simple question: I'm curious as to where Bill Faison would fall on this issue.

He seems to be cranking up some sort of a political engine, whether it's to challenge Bev, wield more influence within the GA itself, or maybe a Congressional delegation bid. Whatever. I still want to know, "Do you support the suppression of cleaner air standards, or other environmental improvements, on either a Federal or State level?"

Why is there no primary for Governor?

Please, someone. Primary Perdue.

Hell, I might have to.

We've got four-way Democratic primaries for the GOP-heavy NC 10th Congressional district and multiple legislators looking at the Democratic nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

But no one is stepping up to challenge Perdue yet? Really?

I know folks could be waiting for the traditional post-Thanksgiving announcement season or to see what happens with redistricting or even the Nov 28 legislative session.

It's time for someone to primary Perdue.

Come on. We're begging for a new nominee. So is the rest of the party and many unaffiliated voters in the state. The polling has been consistent on this.

Take it and run with it.

 

Response to SCHarrison

I will be back with a response from Bill Faison. On a blackberry and will need to get on a laptop.

Thanks!

Whatever the response is, I appreciate the Saturday afternoon effort.

Bev has obviously gotten her

Bev has obviously gotten her advise from Kay Hagan....another business shill at the expense of the people of North Carolina. Always great to have unemployed people with crappy air to breath...and sure just like all those other fairy tales like trickle down economics, the EPA ozone rules is a job killer and repatriating corp cash abroad will create jobs once the corp have all that cash at B of A. Yeap..and the checks in the mail. Kay and Bev...what a pair we elected.

There's no timetable

I know he's got a lot on his plate these days, so whenever he can is just fine.

RESPONSE FROM BILL FAISON

New Ozone Rules

Balancing environmental standards and health considerations with the need for jobs and the economy will certainly bring out dedicated environmental advocates and a stable of well-paid industry advocates. We face difficult and critical times on both environmental and economic fronts.
 
Asthma and deaths from asthma are on the rise at rapid and alarming rates in children and adults in industrial countries across the globe and at home. Respiratory problems account for an alarming number of hospitalizations and the attendant economic burden associated with healthcare costs which are increasing at a rate out of all proportion to any other costs within our society.
 
Economic development is critical to our society and even more so following the Great Recession as we struggle with a fragile recovery while teetering on the brink of a double dip into recession. People are struggling with high unemployment, business failures and shrinking wages. We must address the critical need for jobs and business growth to promote jobs.
 
We must strike a balance between our important values including; protecting our environment, health, and quality of life, and promoting and creating jobs, businesses, and economic opportunity. 

We already know that EPA is in the process of implementing national standards for mercury emissions and other chemicals from coal and oil-fired power plants. These standards could save 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year as well as preventing 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children. The cost of these healthcare, quality of life and life saving measures is shutting down a large number of the older plants.

We need a common sense balance between NC Air Quality Division recommendations and Dept of Commerce economic development goals. We also need transparent openness in action recommendations and notifications emanating from the Governor's office, and State Agencies and especially so when these are directed at environmental standards. 

I understand the President postponed further consideration of the rules due to the cost of implementation and the slow economic recovery, opting to revisit the standards in 2013. The current economic crisis is certainly driving political discussion and debate, however, there is a very real economic, societal and quality of life cost associated with the adverse health effects of pollution that must be factored into consideration.
 
We all know that industry organizations as well as the affected businesses lobbied hard for the delay. If the regulations had been enacted, non-attainment areas would have coincided with industrial sectors in many locations in NC. I have read that areas cited by EPA in the past for non-attainment did not necessarily experience lower economic growth rates. NC's position letter to EPA certainly needed to show growth rates and costs in comparison to benefits on the public health side. It is disappointing that the letter has not been made public so we can see the analysis and the arguments presented. 

Thank you

I'm not really sure if there's a "yes" or "no" in there, but I'd say he's leaning in the right direction. And he makes some very good points about the health costs associated with pollution.

I'd like to see that letter too, but it has yet to be posted.

Perhaps we can ask for the letter?

I would say it is completely appropriate for a member of the NC House to request a copy of the letter. (919 733 3340) - Has anyone requested it and not received it? Bill is so thorough and has read a lot and done a lot of research on the issue but there is no yes or no in there yet, more of an approach. He is just starting to look at the science of the issue and the actual standards (parts per million) proposed by EPA's Science Board and the EPA itself so more to come.

keith overcash has retired

but Bill Faison requested the letter this morning and we will scan and post it when we receive it.

Didn't know that

I probably should have, but we could talk all day (several years, actually) about the things I don't know. ;)

Thanks for taking the time and effort. Environmental issues have taken an extra-hard pounding this year, and just having this conversation is important.

A critical discussion to continue

Suggest we talk about energy and environmental issues ... very important component of the economic future of NC

You should be able to

save it in Google Docs and then post a link to it here, Jeanne. Or you can copy and paste the whole thing in a comment or diary. Either way is fine, as long as readers have access to the entire document.

It is very long

to copy and paste here - attachments with it. What are google docs? Or i can email it to you,m perhaps?

You can send it to me

via e-mail if you'd like (the site allows this), and here's a link to the GoogleDocs tour page. It's a great way to preserve and share stuff.

Unfortunately

am not able to see how to attach the pdf in an email on here to you ... sorry - I am not at a desktop so cannot get to the GoogleDocs and even with an iPad having difficulty. My email is jmbonds3@yahoo.com if you want to email me and I will send it back to you.

I sent you a private message

with my e-mail address, but I'll follow it with an e-mail to yours.

Thank you

I've uploaded the letter to Google Docs, and it should be viewable by anybody who wants to read it. Which it should have been in the first place, especially considering the letter itself is over a year-and-a-half old.

This part jumped out at me, and is a testament to the folly of defunding our environmental regulators:

Another concern is the NCDAQ, like many state air control agencies, is in poor financial condition due to the current economic situation. The NCDAQ has eliminated twenty-three positions within the last two years and expects to eliminate another nine positions in the next few months. In addition to the cost of deploying new ozone monitors to meet the requirements in the proposed ozone monitoring rule, the NCDAQ is in need of replacing most of its ozone monitors, as the aged units are approaching their anticipated end-of-life. The NCDAQ also has to determine how to fund the additional monitoring requirements for the new lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide standards. Furthermore, the NCDAQ is expending resources to implement and enforce the generally available control technology (GACT) regulations, not to mention the expected resources that will be needed for the future climate change regulations. The new requirements and shrinking funds are placing the NCDAQ in a position where it will not be able to afford to implement all of the new monitoring requirements for the various pollutants.

And that was the situation before Republicans took over and began the systematic dismantling and defunding of DENR.

While I sympathise with our environmenmtal regulators over this funding issue, "inability to comply" is not a sound argument for blocking new Federal anti-pollution standards.