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Kentuckians Urged: Drive Less This Summer

The arrival of summer in Louisville can also mean the arrival of air quality alert days.  The culprits are vehicle emissions from burning motor fuel combined with hotter temperatures.  And the result is often levels of ozone or soot that aren’t safe for people who are vulnerable to breathing problems.  This year the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wants to encourage motorists to drive less.  Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says they will spend $200,000 dollars on ads as well as an online survey about air quality.

“We will be looking at things such as the number of web hits.  We’ll have some help analyzing how many people heard the various broadcast promotions or advertisements.  And we will know how many people took the survey,” says Wolfe.

The Cabinet is also encouraging people to learn more about ways to reduce driving.  Beyond bicycling, carpooling, and taking public transportation, Wolfe says Kentuckians should consider living closer to work and school.  They can also help curb suburban sprawl by promoting developments with mixed land uses.

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A Good Week for the Atmosphere

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.”