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Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a twofold problem.

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Washington Makes Cleaner Air a Bigger Priority

PHOTO: A Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force is charged with making recommendations to the next Washington Legislature about how to clean up the state's air. Photo credit: Powson/iStockphoto.com.
PHOTO: A Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force is charged with making recommendations to the next Washington Legislature about how to clean up the state's air. Photo credit: Powson/iStockphoto.com.
April 30, 2014

SEATTLE - It's a big week for renewing Washington's commitment to cleaner air.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order putting the state's focus on reducing carbon emissions from vehicles, phasing out the use of power generated from out-of-state coal and encouraging energy efficiency. He also appointed a Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force, made up of corporate, conservation, labor, health and government representatives, to come up with recommendations by mid-November.

Task force member Renee Klein, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association's Mountain-Pacific Region, said Inslee expects some spirited debate.

"The governor said that he didn't put together a roomful of people who are all going to nod 'yes' on the same issues, because that's not what he's looking for, in my opinion," she said. "I think what we agree on is, we have this common understanding that we have to act, and we have to act pretty soon."

The Legislature committed in 2007 to make some carbon-reduction changes, but the economy and state budget crunch put many of them on hold. Inslee said it's his aim to get them back on track.

Meanwhile, a report released today from the American Lung Association, analyzing some types of air pollution such as ozone and particulate matter, said nearly half the U.S. population lives in areas where the air is unhealthy at times

Still, the picture today is better than it was 10 years ago, said Janice Nolen, an assistant vice president for national policy at the Lung Association.

"Cleaning up power plants, cleaning up diesel, cleaning up cars, cleaning up SUVs - things like that have made a huge difference in reducing pollution across the nation," she said.

In the West, the report said, wildfires are responsible for poor air quality in some counties. Its recommendations include improving the air-quality monitoring network, reducing carbon pollution from power plants and tailpipe emissions, cutting wood smoke and adopting the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal for ozone standards.

The report, "State of the Air 2014," is online at stateoftheair.org. Inslee's executive order is at governor.wa.gov.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA