Clean Wisconsin asks EPA to Clean up Dangerous Air Pollution

MADISON — Clean Wisconsin filed comments today encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the health of Wisconsin families by implementing strong air quality standards for sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is a pollutant from power plants and industry sources that creates unhealthy air and trigger air quality advisories.

“Sulfur dioxide endangers public health by creating a variety of respiratory system problems and aggravating heart disease,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, staff attorney at Clean Wisconsin. “The high prevalence of air quality advisories this year shows that the current standards fail to adequately protect millions of Wisconsin residents. It’s time for EPA to implement stronger standards.”

Current EPA standards are based off of monitoring – a system that measure the level of sulfur dioxide in the air. Unfortunately, nine of the ten largest sulfur dioxide sources are unmonitored for their impacts on air quality. This leaves Wisconsin residents at risk – especially the 1.38 million Wisconsin residents that live within five miles of an unmonitored major source of sulfur dioxide.

“Poor air quality is especially harmful to sensitive groups including children, the elderly, people with asthma and those who exercise outdoors,” said Wheeler. “By implementing stronger standards for sulfur dioxide, the EPA can improve the lives of millions of Wisconsin residents.”

In 2010, the EPA created new, stronger rules intended to protect public health. EPA has proposed requiring polluters to model air pollution to meet the standard, thus helping protect residents who don’t live near monitors. Strong resistance from industry groups has delayed the implementation of these important health standards. Clean Wisconsin encourages the EPA to stay strong on the sulfur dioxide standards, despite resistance from big industry, in the comments filed today.

“We’ve already had more ozone alert days this year than we had in all of 2011,” said Wheeler. “When the health of millions of residents lies in the balance, we can’t afford to wait to clean up dangerous pollution.”