Obama Administration Decision on Smog Standards Puts Thousands of Lives at Risk

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Michelle Hesterberg

Environment Minnesota

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Obama administration announced that it will not update critical air quality standards for ozone pollution—commonly known as smog.  This decision was made despite a unanimous recommendation by the independent board of air experts and scientists created under the Clean Air Act that the current standard be strengthened to protect public health.  Exposure to smog triggers asthma attacks, causes permanent lung damage and can even lead to premature death.  In fact, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 5,000 asthma-related deaths occur each year in the United States.  In Minnesota 182,485 and  60,700 children suffer from asthma, according to the American Lung Association.
“For too long, smog pollution has left our children gasping for breath,” said Ken Bradley, Director of Environment Minnesota. “Unfortunately, rather than acting decisively to protect our kids from this dangerous air pollution, the White House today chose to kick the can down the road. Our kids, senior citizens and those suffering from respiratory problems will suffer as a consequence and certainly deserve better.”
Power plants alone spew 1.9 million tons of smog-forming pollution into our air every year.

Environment Minnesota’s recent report, “Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Ozone,” catalogs smog-forming emissions from all power plants in the United States, and highlights the states where pollution is the worst.  Link to our report can be found here. In order to protect public health and our environment, Environment Minnesota continued its call to clean up the largest sources of smog-forming pollution, reduce overall energy use, and transition to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.