The Air Is Dirty Ha? How About A Lower Ozone Standard?

cartoon-epa-co2EPA is required, under the Clean Air Act, to update air quality standards every five years based on the current scientific research. Doing so will protect the public health and the environment. Not far from now EPA is expected to pass lower ozone standards. As some people might have guess it the states are not happy about this. Lower ozone standards mean the states and companies will spend more money. By “cutting ozone emissions to 70 parts per billion would cost industry about $3.9 billion in 2025, while a stricter limit of 65 would push the cost up to $15 billion.” Doing so would most likely hurt the states’ economies stated by Mike Pence with 10 other Republicans governors in a letter to the EPA.

The state would usually do the “management and not really protection”, Liz Kaaztz Chary stated. It’s true and I do agree with him. States top priority is the management and protection will come later who know when. They won’t move a finger until people become outrageous and protest about it. That is how it how it works, the state won’t do anything until they got pressured by the public. Though the EPA is kind of unreasonable because their studies were based on the current standard in 2008. A Lot changes happened during the last seven years.

-“Ozone compliance depends on toughness of new standard

*Phiseth O.

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EPA First Coal Ash Regulation

In this Feb. 5, 2014 photo, coal ash swirls on the surface of the Dan River as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of a spill of coal ash into the river in Danville, Va.

In this Feb. 5, 2014 photo, coal ash swirls on the surface of the Dan River as state and federal environmental officials continued their investigations of a spill of coal ash into the river in Danville, Va.

If people think EPA have regulations for coal ash you’ll wrong. In fact there is none! For the first time, EPA released a regulation to deal with coal ash. Before the regulation the way to deal with the coal ash was left for the state to deal with. So now EPA finally take a stand to reinforce the way to deal with coal ash by labeling the coal ash as a “solid waste” and that’s like your ordinary household trash. With that regulation the EPA will require the storages site to have regular inspections. “Ponds that are currently polluting groundwater will have to close. New ponds will need to be built away from wetlands.” All other options, like the enforcement of these rules, are left for the states.

Some people may feel great about this, but not so much for the environmentalist. They think that the EPA could’ve go even further with the regulation. They think that the coal ash should’ve been classified as “hazardous waste”, why? It’s because “coal ash often contains a variety of toxic elements like selenium, mercury, and lead (although the exact amounts vary).” If organisms, including human, were to take in those chemicals their health will be at risks. Though the con side is that by labeling the coal ash as “hazardous waste” it will “cost companies $1.4 billion per year, or $20 billion in all.” Based on 2012 statistic, “the nation’s coal plants generated some 110 million tons of it. About 40 percent of that ash gets recycled to help make concrete, pavement, and other materials.” With that in mind, if EPA were to classified coal ash as “hazardous waste”, then the recycling companies may not want to buy them.

It may not be a strong start for EPA regulation on coal ash, but it’s the first step. Things may improve because now there’s a regulation that will keep an eye on the storages sites. Though, if things don’t turn out right the EPA can always reinforce it later on.

-“The EPA is regulating coal ash waste. And environmentalists aren’t happy.

-“EPA sets first national standard for coal waste

*Phiseth O.

Recent Environmental Regulations Due to Be Removed

Hahahahaha, but uhmmm no.

With the surge of new Republicans set to be in office soon, many oil, gas, and coal interests are moving to remove Obama’s new regulations on the environment. Many have met on a summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC- a conservative industry supported state policy group).

In the summit, bills were heard that could limit the new regulations by giving states more power to block or delay the new regulations. GOP lawmakers are set to overturn regulations on power plant emissions as well as regulations on ozone pollution. However, most are focused on using state power to limit the regulations. Some even believe that the EPA should be abolished and replaced with multiple state committees.

Even public opinion is influenced negatively by these EPA regulations. Many people in New Mexico have seen increases in their utility costs. However, many environmental groups are ready to counter the industry’s new move by gaining more funds from their liberal contributors.

As of now, I can see this environmental debate shifting in the GOP’s favor. People are mostly concerned about the present and even more on their financial status. If Americans can get things more cheaply, they would. Therefore, if Republicans can provide that, I can see a shift of constituents becoming Republican, which would give Republicans even more power to overturn these regulations. These regulations are necessary to promote public health and the welfare of the environment but the costs are said to be high. In compromise, regulations should be enacted but they should be drawn out over a period of time like 10 years or more so research and development costs can be brought down, thus leaving Americans less worried about their finances.

– Huy D.

Obama Turns to 1970 Clean Air Act

Congress, so far, has not pass any major environmental law since Obama’s two terms in office. However, Obama has adopted the most aggressive and broad environmental policy of anyone in the White House.

To execute his policies, Obama has turned to the very powerful Clean Air Act of 1970. Obama has used this act to enforce a series of regulations on air pollution. The Supreme Court could still reverse Obama’s regulations but so far, it has upheld his policies as the act was created to give great flexibility to the EPA (also created in 1970) in the law’s interpretation.

In Obama’s power to enforce the law, he has created America’s first national policy on fighting global warming, including a future reformation of the auto industry and electrical utilities. Cars would have to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 and electricity production would be transformed since pollution would be limited. This policy could shut down existing coal plants, stop construction of new ones, and end the use of the U.S’s most polluting fuel: coal. Republicans have called these regulations as a “war on coal”.

On Wednesday, Obama regulated the emissions of ozone, the sixth regulation along with soot, mercury, sulfur, nitrogen oxide, and most notably, carbon dioxide. More is expected to come such as the EPA’s regulation on methane. Republicans and industry leaders have criticized these regulations as “job killing”.

I would imagine that Obama would put out further regulations, possibly ones that would limit the Keystone XL Pipeline should it emit high amounts of toxic gases or indirectly cause its emissions. If Congress does little to combat climate change, Obama is in his constitutional right to enforce these regulations as stated by the Clean Air Act and as such, the Supreme Court should continue to uphold his policies. Business and industry should be responsible for the consequences of their products if it harms the setting that people reside in; therefore, they should take it upon themselves (without force/law) to reform their practices.

– Huy D.

New Disputes between Obama and GOP over Environment

Keystone Pipelines

There has been great dispute between President Barack Obama and the now GOP majority in the Senate and larger majority in the House over the environment. The disputes are over the EPA’s regulations, the Keystone Pipeline, and the United States’ and China’s agreement in reducing carbon emissions.

1. EPA Regulations
The EPA is about to pass new rules that would limit carbon emissions; however, Republican leaders in Congress are opposed to them. New Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell says the new rules will destroy the U.S’s coal industry and shut down coal-fired power plants across the nation. He and other conservatives are for a “war on coal” while Republicans want to end funding for these regulations. Obama is expected to veto this legislation.

2. Keystone Pipeline
Republicans are pushing new laws to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Republicans are annoyed that the Obama administration has not given any decision on the pipeline though White House officials noted that Obama would be likely to veto the pipeline as he regards it premature.

3. Reducing Carbon Emissions
Obama, this week, went to China and the two agreed upon an environmental initiative to reduce their carbon emissions in the next twenty years. Conservatives believe that this would reduce jobs and increase utility rates.

As a supporter of a cleaner environment, I do agree with Obama’s stance on these issues. The GOP seems to be lacking some foresight on the later years (50 years from now, or longer) when the environment could become toxic if carbon emissions are not reduced. However, I do see how there would be present economic decline with these regulations in place or economic boom with the Keystone. Regardless, Obama will have great trouble in exercising his views, now that there is a Republican majority prepared to oppose him on these environmental issues.

– Huy D.