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Warning: New Jersey's Air is Dangerous to Your Health, Says EPA

Date : Fri, 9 Oct 2009 12:32:30 -0400

For Immediate Release
October 9, 2009 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Warning: New Jersey's Air is Dangerous to Your Health, Says EPA

An EPA report released today reveals that 13 counties in New Jersey are among the worst when it comes to air quality. The report said the 13 urban counties have failed to meet the EPA's daily standards for fine particle air pollution, putting the region's residents at risk for health complications like asthma, heart attacks, and premature death.

It's no coincidence the report reveals that more than half of the counties in the state have dangerously dirty air as a result of particulate matter and soot. In recent years, these urban counties have been subject to contamination from highway widenings, sprawl, dirty coal plants, refineries, pollution from ports, and a lack of restrictions on diesel emissions and incinerators.

"The EPA report clearly shows that New Jersey's air quality is unhealthy to its citizens in a majority of counties. The state is not doing enough to address these problems," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

  The report cited bad air quality in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Union, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties, which represent about 85 percent of New Jersey's population.

The reason that we have some of the worst air quality in the nation is because New Jersey is home to dirty coal plants, refineries and ports, plus high amounts of industry, construction vehicles, diesel traffic, and sprawl.

"This report is like the canary in a coal mine and the canary is in a coma," Tittel said. "There has been a real failure by the Corzine Administration to adequately address air pollution and the public health impacts from it."

There are steps the Corzine Administration could take to stop the deterioration of our air quality. The governor should go after coal plants and not allow the PurGen plant to be constructed in Linden. All of our coal plants should be switched to natural gas, especially the Hudson and Mercer plants. The BL England plant should not be allowed to reopen. Governor Corzine should also require incinerators to upgrade and remove fine particulates. We have four incinerators in New Jersey, each contributing to our pollution problems.

Proposals like the Susquehanna Roseland transmission line, which will bring in dirty power from Pennsylvania, should be stopped. It will only increase pollution and put New Jersey residents at risk. The Bush Administration failed to regulate coal plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio and now we are paying the price.

The state's plans to widen the Turnpike, Parkway, and Atlantic City Expressway will only make pollution worse by encouraging sprawl and adding more cars and trucks to the road that will emit particulate matter and other toxic air pollutants to our air. The state has failed to implement real vehicle mile travel reductions, which has led to increased traffic and emissions of particulate matter. If we had a trip program in place, we would not need to widen the highways.

Governor Corzine should also sign an executive order on diesel trucks and construction vehicles for state contracts, as he promised but has yet to do. Particulates from diesel are one of the biggest contributors to our air pollution problems. All diesel trucks and construction vehicles that have state contracts should have to be clean diesel and clean diesel should be implemented at the state's ports. Unfortunately, up until now, Governor Corzine has only made diesel pollution worse by cutting funding from the diesel retrofit program, which retrofits school buses, commercial buses and public vehicles.

The Governor is signing the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act, a bill that will only promote sprawl by offering public subsidies to developers, impacting our air quality even more. The failure of New Jersey to have a state plan impedes programs to limit sprawl.

"Many summer days, children in New Jersey can't even go outside and play because of asthma," Tittel said. "Emergency rooms are filled with people on bad air quality days. New Jersey has a serious problem when it comes to air pollution. Whether it is Governor Corzine or someone else who is our next governor, we'll be watching you."

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2009-10-09 09:32:30

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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