Quantcast

Would You Like Soot With that Hot Dog?

Energy

EcoWatch

By Paul E McGinniss

Dirty, soot covered snow in Cony Island, New York. Photo courtesy e-arcades.com

As a native New Yorker, I know soot. Talk to anyone in NYC and they will tell you they've wiped soot off their faces, window sills, car windows and picnic tables.

Fortunately, on Dec. 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new clean air standards which will reduce harmful soot in the atmosphere by putting limits on emissions of fine particulate matter or PM2.5, one of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of air pollution. The new standard will reduce soot pollution by 20 percent. Soot pollution causes thousands of premature deaths every year across the U.S. through a variety of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

And certainly the U.S. is not alone. A report out today by Greenpeace East Asia, estimated 8,572 premature deaths occurred in four major Chinese cities in 2012, due to high levels of PM2.5.

Even the Arctic is suffering from the world's high soot levels. James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey Team, who bravely captured the Arctic glaciers disappearing as a result of global warming in the must see film, Chasing Ice, probably feels somewhat relieved that the U.S. EPA mandated new soot standards. Soot, also known as black carbon, is a significant contributor to climate change which Balog talks about in his film. According to a 2010 study by Dr. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University in the Journal of Geophysical Research, reducing black carbon emissions in the next 15 years could be the best and only way to save the Arctic ice from warmer temperatures.

Check out this video of Dr. Jacobson talking about his study Soot Is Second Leading Cause of Global Warming:

Clearly the U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson understands the value of stronger clean air standards. She said in a statement:

“These standards are fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act. We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness in our communities, and families across the country will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air.

However, some industry groups acting like dinosaurs from ages long past, such as the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API), oppose these tougher emissions restrictions.

Dinosaur-in-Chief, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, stated in a press release:

“With the fiscal cliff only a few weeks away and so much hanging in the balance, the EPA displayed a staggering level of shortsightedness by dropping another harsh regulation on America’s job creators."

But is protecting the health of Americans and our environment really shortsighted and a cost that businesses can't afford?

The API, another, shall we say, "not progressive" trade group representing an industry experiencing record profits, thinks businesses can't afford to protect the environment or the health of Americans, including their own employees.

Howard Feldman, API director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, said about the EPA’s new standards:

"The collective impacts of these and other potential new regulations at a time when 12 million Americans are still unemployed would be a blow to our economy as it struggles to recover and put Americans back to work. It makes no sense to risk economic harm when the public health necessity of these regulations is ambiguous at best."

Fortunately, many American businesses don't buy the jobs vs. the environment ploy and believe that a strong, sustainable economy is only achievable when you have healthy people and a healthy planet.

Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) in Muscatine, Iowa, is demonstrating that they can stay in business while meeting the tougher new environmental standards. Janet R. Sichterman, corporate spokesperson for GPC, told EcoWatch today by email:

“Grain Processing Corporation has an ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our community. We are well on our way to reducing our environmental impact with the construction of a new $100 million dryer house.

"Operational in 2015, this new dryer house alone will enable GPC to reduce total emissions by 72 percent in less than three years and by 82 percent by 2020.

"This $100 million environmental renovation will allow GPC to slash emissions and achieve the new air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency long before they take effect.”

Of course it will take time to see progress from these new regulations, especially considering that 66 counties in the U.S. haven't even reached the air quality required by the old soot standard. If you live in greater Cleveland, Ohio, or the New York City metro region including New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island, or one of the many parts of California as shown in the map to the right, you breathe air every day that is classified as non-attainment air quality.

Is it too much to ask for the snow falling on NYC to stay white for longer than a New York Minute?

Visit EcoWatch’s AIR and COAL pages for more related news on this topic.

--------

Paul E McGinniss is The New York Green Advocate. He is a green building consultant and real estate broker in New York. He is pretty much obsessed with all things environment and has lately become a resiliency addict. Follow McGinniss @PaulEMcGinniss.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less