Big Public Support for EPA's New "Soot Rule"
RICHMOND, Va. - The public comment period has ended for the Soot Rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So far, this rule has received more supportive comments from the general public than at any time in the agency's history.
Peter Iwaowicz, the director of the Clean Air Campaign for the American Lung Association, says the standard would limit the amount of soot released into the air and would be an important addition to the rules already in place for other smokestack or tailpipe emissions.
"The soot standards are very important because they protect public health. Soot is a killer. Science is very clear, and there's overwhelming evidence to show that soot levels currently labeled 'safe' in this country cause heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks."
Those opposed to the EPA soot standards claim the science isn't clear and the EPA doesn't have authority to enact tighter standards, Iwanowicz says.
"We saw oil industry representatives at public hearings this summer saying 'a little soot is actually okay for you; the body has the ability to handle it. It's not a big problem.' Scientists tell us that that's not the truth; soot is a killer, it triggers disease."
Dr. Stuart Tousman, professor of psychology, Health Psychology Program, Jefferson College of Health Science, is an asthma sufferer. He also chairs the Virginia Asthma Coalition. Tousman warns that thousands of Virginians live in areas where poor air quality is making them sick - places such as Roanoke.
"The other big area that is really prone to this is in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/eastern region of the state. Richmond has actually been voted 'The Asthma Capital' of the country."
An EPA proposal to reduce cross-state air pollution was recently blocked. Iwanowicz says that rule would have worked in concert with the new Soot Rule. A court order requires the EPA to set the standard this year, he adds.