States Fight EPA Rollbacks Amid Failing Air Quality Scores

Last Updated by Andrea Sears on

The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2019 Report says more than 141 million Americans live in counties that got an F for unhealthy air, an increase of seven million over last year's report. Transportation is now the major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states that follow California's standards for vehicle emissions, which are stricter than federal standards.

Citing purported higher vehicle costs and safety compromises, the Trump administration wants to freeze vehicle emission standards at 2020 levels and eliminate states' ability to impose tougher limits. But the administration's cost and safety claims have been disproved and Donald Hahn, the mayor of State College, believes states should be allowed to take the lead in setting those emission standards.

"We're talking about not only the health of Pennsylvanians, but we're also talking about jobs, because essentially, the job trends, nation-wide, tend to be in favor of better environmental protection technologies."

Pennsylvania has joined at least 16 other states in a lawsuit seeking to prevent the EPA from rolling back emission standards. Smog-forming ozone and particulate air pollution have severe impacts on children and seniors and people with heart disease, asthma, and other respiratory ailments. But Hahn points out that anyone can suffer the negative effects.

"One of the ironies is that it seems to target people who are most likely to exercise, as well. Their exposure is increased by act or activity."

The State of the Air Report gives a dozen Pennsylvania counties an F for air quality. Hahn adds that people in the state are aware of the problem.

"Pennsylvanians are concerned about it and they want to have the local controls to do something about it. Unfortunately, it seems like Washington doesn't want them to address it."

The full Lung Association's State of the Air Report is available here.

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