March 13, 2008

EPA Tightens Ozone Pollution, kinda

Its the same old story over and over. Industry says the new Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ozone standards are too aggressive and call for too much of a reduction. On the other hand you have the scientists who are appalled that the EPA didn't enact tighter restrictions and feel that these levels will do little to improve the health of millions of Americans. Bernadette Toomey, president of the American Lung Association said, "Today's decision means millions of Americans will not get the protection that the law requires." So who's right?

Well it depends on how much you value your health and how responsible you think industry should be when adding potentially harmful substances to the air and water we use. Yes it is true that we all benefit from industry and the massive infrastructure we rely on daily does take a large amount of chemical processing (be it burning coal or producing plastics). But at some point the producers of harmful substances have to be held responsible. I like to think of it this way. If I buy some food that is contaminated with harmful substances there is a good chance that the media will be all over it because nobody wants to put stuff like that in their body.

But wait, don't we all put the air around us in our bodies too? Well yes, and just like food, I believe air and water should be considered consumables. Companies that want to tarnish these public stores of consumables should be held responsible. The best way to go about this is to place a very strict regulation on the amount of ozone you produce and then levy heavy fines for those who exceed the limit. Time has shown that monetary incentive is the strongest motivator for individuals and companies, and threatened with large financial loss I don't see many companies stepping outside of compliance.

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