Going to the MATS for Air Quality in Pennsylvania (and Look For Me in the Morning Call Next Week)

Jon Geeting has a cost/benefit quote from Paul Krugman about the new Mercury and Air Toxins Standards (MATS) announced by EPA this week, and some thoughts about the GenOn issue here in our backyard.

As I commented on Jon’s blog:

Jon, thanks for posting on this.  In my capacity as Outreach Director for the Air Quality Partnership of Lehigh Valley – Berks, I have [a] piece running on related issues in the forthcoming Tuesday, Dec 27 edition of The Morning Call.

We’re applauding the president for the new MATS (Mercury and Toxins Standard), but we’re still looking for leadership on the new Ozone standards EPA proposed, based on the best available science, this past year.  In September, the President disappointed everyone by failing to enact these standards, leaving 2008 Bush guidelines in place that have been widely derided by the scientific community and advocacy groups.

Some of these groups have been pushing hard for GenOn to be forced to clean up sooner than the three year window that now seems to be codified.  My personal preference would be for a quicker total clean up.   Clean air is a fundamental legal right of all residents of the Commonwealth (Section 27 of the PA Constitution).  Krugman is right about the health benefits and cost/benefit of MATS, even as President Obama was wrong about the negative economic impact of better Ozone standards.  It makes one wonder why MATS got greenlit and responsible Ozone standards got punted to a presumptive second Obama term.

As you’ll see in Tuesday’s piece, “political realities” aren’t a good answer on the Ozone failure.  Check out what the President’s frenemies at the American Lung Association had to say about it.  They’re very pleased with the President this week about MATS, and they should be.   But my primary charge as a representative of the Air Quality Partnership is to advocate for and educate about ways we can reduce smog-causing ozone pollution and the production of deadly soot (often called particulate matter).   Mr. Obama, why, exactly, were the crucial updates to the Bush standards (so widely scorned in the progressive community) abandoned without a fight?  Why did you cede the cost/benefit narrative on better ozone protection when the science (and economics) were clearly in the favor of protecting public health?

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7 comments

  1. As soon as industry raises the red flag “Jobs in Jeopardy” leaders are so eager to please and back off. Ironically, some of those same companies operate in a much tighter emissions framework in Europe already and brag about it over there, too.

  2. I think the failure to support the EPA was fairly indefensible, even if, I understand the administration’s rationale for doing so (as I commented earlier). Although, after demonstrating a modicum of fortitude during Payroll tax extension standoff, and today’s decision to issue signing statements, refusing to be bound by policy riders in the Omnibus, which the administration deems unconstitutional… I hope Obama’s spine is strengthening, and hope that the new Ozone regulations will be adopted in 2012. (hopefully before November)… but that’s a lot of hope and I don’t have the confidence to have faith….

  3. Unrelated comment that will sound snarky but is not intended that way:

    Do you proofread your blog entries? I know this is just the Internet and the message is more important than the medium, but when I read something with missing articles, incorrect tense, and other mechanical problems I tend to take the author less seriously. I will not re-read to get an accurate count, but it seems like most of your posts fall into this category, and I cannot imagine it is a good public face for someone who wants to make a living writing.

    Some examples that jump out from this piece: “… I have piece running …”, “… so should we all [be?].”, “… to advocate for and education about …”, and “… the productive of deadly soot …”.

    1. I didn’t answer your actual question. I proofread, but this medium is no different than any other. Writers often don’t read what’s actually there, but what they mean to be there. That’s why we workshop and peer edit…we talk a lot about the need for multiple sets of eyes on a given work. With a blog, it’s harder to get those eyes between “save draft” and “publish,” either because of the hour or the perceived urgency of a post. Thanks for your reminder about what is for many of us a kind of growing edge. How to manage the peculiar emotional aspect of blogging with the reality of other people’s perceptions? Increasingly important.

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