Advertisement

Editorial - Toxic rules and clean air

October 13, 1997

Pennsylvania and some of its East Coast neighbors got some welcome news last week from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is finally accepting the claim that some of the airborne pollution measured in Pennsylvania actually blows in from the Midwest and the Ohio Valley. As a result, those states will face additional EPA pressure to clean up their air.

That's the good news; the bad news is that new EPA proposals on air pollution are so stringent that they may force many small businesses to close their doors. And based on a Friday statement by Carol Browner, it looks as if homeowners will pay part of the price for the clean-up as well.

Browner began by announcing that targets for states' pollution reduction were drawn based on "their contribution to the problem." Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia would have to cut their air pollution by 40 percent, while Pennsylvania's target would be 32 percent. States to the northeast of Pennsylvania would have targets as low as 19 percent.

Advertisement

Browner predicted the governors of all states would target coal-fired electric generating plants, since, she said, that would be the most cost-effective way of achieving EPA goals. States would have two years to submit their plans, with better air mandated by 2005.

Pennsylvania may have gotten a break on sorts on the latest targets, but after all the improvements the power industry had to make to deal with the problem of acid rain, further improvements will be costly. As a result, the savings many had expected (as a result of legislation now being developed to allow consumers to choose their electric supplier) may be smaller than predicted.

Our real concern, however, is for the small businesses - restaurants, bakeries, dry cleaners and auto body shops, to name a few - that will face new regulations. A by-product of shutting down such firms probably would be an improvement in air quality. But we agree with the bipartisan Congressional group now challenging these rules - the U.S. shouldn't have to poison its business climate to take poisons out of the air.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|