From June Blotnick, executive director of Clean Air Carolina, in response to “EPA rule is bad news for North Carolina” (Aug. 28 For the Record):
Every time the federal government proposes new clean air standards, we hear the same cry from a segment of the business community that jobs will be lost and our state’s economy will suffer. Fortunately, history has proved those arguments wrong. We have over 40 years of evidence that shows clean air standards don’t cripple our economy but, in fact, create jobs through innovations in technology and in other sectors.
Charlotte, Raleigh, and other regions have benefited greatly from these requirements by increasing transportation choices, creating land use plans to reduce vehicle miles traveled, and taking steps to increase energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. The expansive economic growth of these major urban areas shows that a healthy environment and a healthy economy are possible.
All North Carolinians benefited from our state’s bipartisan passage of the Clean Smokestack Act in 2002 to reduce emissions from coal plants. Last year, researchers at Duke University found death rates from asthma, emphysema, and pneumonia dropped significantly during the period this law and other federal clean air requirements were implemented.
EPA standards are informed by the latest scientific research on how ozone affects human health by looking at different populations, short- and long-term exposure, and studies performed inside and outside the lab. A key finding from the EPA is that there is great variability in how humans react to higher ozone concentrations. People who are overweight, the elderly, and children with asthma are significantly more susceptible to reduced lung function when exposed to ozone levels below the current standard. Emergency room visits for asthma have been found to increase well below the current standard.
We must continue to use the latest science to define what clean, healthy air is and if necessary, enforce revised standards that protect public health. Forty years of experience has shown that both the market and specific industries will adapt, creating a triple win for our health, the environment, and the economy.