Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Sierra Club: Air still dirty

Group challenges EPA on Cincinnati

Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Cincinnati does not deserve to be redesignated as a clean-air city under federal pollution guidelines, the Sierra Club said Monday, as it prepared to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal.

        The organization said Cincinnati's “chronic poor air quality still poses a serious health risk to Cincinnati residents, especially to children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions.”

        EPA officials said Friday they were calling for a redesignation of Cincinnati's air quality from “moderate nonattainment” to “attainment.”

        The proposal is expected to be published in the Federal Register this week and, allowing for public comments, could be made official as early as April, EPA officials said.

        It would mark the first time since 1979 that Cincinnati would be in compliance with federal regulations governing smog.

        But the Sierra Club said it would protest the redesignation, saying it is based on air-pollution standards that are outmoded and no longer protective of human health.

        The EPA's attempt to impose tougher standards on U.S. cities has been stopped — at least temporarily — by a federal court ruling in 1999.

        “It's like if your doctor said he'll use an old, disproven test to diagnose your illness rather than an updated, state-of-the-art test, just so that you can get a clean bill of health,” said Glen Brand, director of the Cincinnati Sierra Club office.

        “Instead of playing word games, we need to address the smog health threat in Cincinnati by implementing stronger air standards, managing the area's out-of-control urban sprawl, including building efficient, cost-effective commuter trains for the region.”

        Members of the area congressional delegation and the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce praised the EPA proposal, saying it would aid economic development efforts.

        Firms frequently are reluctant to locate in areas where they expect substantial costs to meet air pollution standards.


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