A Good Week for the Atmosphere

by kespeland on May 22, 2009

Well, mostly. We did have air quality alerts here on Thursday and today (Friday), caused essentially by too many cars on the roads and high temperatures.

But on Capitol Hill, administrators and legislators alike made progress on curbing the kinds of emissions that can lead to those alerts.

The EPA announced today it would begin work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop new standards for both vehicle greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) emissions as well as fuel efficiency. If the new rules are approved, by 2016, new cars could be achieving nearly 35.5 miles to the gallon and emitting less pollution.

The reason the two agencies are involved, for the detail-minded readers, is this: the EPA is responsible for regulating carbon dioxide emissions (as ordered by the Supreme Court a couple of years ago) and NHTSA is responsible for the fuel efficiency part. Working together, they’ll be able to establish one “harmonized” national standard.

Vehicle exhaust

Vehicle exhaust

On the legislative side, perhaps the most significant bill to address climate change and energy issues has passed a U.S. House committee. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that she’d like to get it to the House floor for a vote “as soon as possible.”

A bit of local air news: according to The New York Times, an Indiana jury found that Duke Energy Corp. did not install the proper pollution controls when it replaced equipment at its Gallagher plant in Floyd County. Since around 1999, that’s been leading to more air pollution in southern Indiana and around Louisville, the article says:

“The Gallagher Station has emitted 25,000 additional tons of pollution per year since upgrading the pulverizers, according to the New England-based Clean Air Task Force. Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain and can also cause serious health impacts.”

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