Again, The Gov Earns an "F"
This Time It’s Air Quality
All Citizens at Risk
By Jim Kotcon
The US--PIRG and the National Environmental Trust recently issued a report card which graded ten southern Governors on air quality issues. Governor Underwood received a failing grade in all four categories.
While that is no surprise to many of us, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Office of Air Quality Chief Skipp Kropp defended the Governor’s ozone plan by saying the DEP didn’t "think the dramatic nitrogen oxide reductions that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to control smog are needed" and that they think the Governor’s alternate plan "will be more effective."
So, are nitrogen oxide (NOx) reductions needed? The Office of Air Quality will almost certainly have to designate most of the state as being in non-attainment for ozone standards later this year. (NOx combines with volatile organic compounds to produce ozone.) Kropp, at a recent talk, tried to imply that NOx emissions were already going down under Clean Air Act controls for acid rain, so further reductions were premature. In fact, rather than declining, NOx emissions from utilities in WV have increased 10 % in the last 5 years.
But is Underwood’s plan for reducing NOx emissions from utilities (by 65 %) more effective than the EPA proposal to reduce emissions by 85 %? Incredibly, the Office of Air Quality admits in their technical support document (available at www.dep.state.wv.us.oaq/index.html) that EPA’s plan is more effective than the Governor’s alternative plan!
But won’t we lose jobs and hurt our economy? Underwood in the past has frequently cited an outdated industry study that claims 11,000 jobs would be lost in West Virginia. Counter to the governor’s weak argument, the EPA recently came out with their Regulatory Impact Analysis (available at www.epa.gov/capi/ipm/npr.htm) The Benefits Analysis shows that, while a few coal mining jobs may be lost, the construction of new air pollution control equipment more than makes up for them. The EPA Plan will produce a net INCREASE in employment. And the EPA plan produces almost $2.00 in health benefits for every dollar in pollution control costs.
A recent study showed that government regulators overestimate the cost of environmental regulations EVERY time, and industry estimates are even worse. Even EPA’s analysis admits they do not include economic benefits to agriculture and forestry from cleaner air, even though these are substantial.
In summary, Governor Underwood’s plan is bad for West Virginia’s air quality, bad for our health, bad for our economy, and helps out-of-state utilities. No wonder he flunked!
What to do! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to complain about our worsening air quality. Let them know the truth about Underwood’s NOx Plan. Call 594-3322 for more info.