State fights new air quality measures

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Here’s some news that’ll give you even more confidence in your state government. As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported Friday, the N.C. agency responsible for enforcing air pollution standards is actually fighting a federal plan to mandate cleaner air. This kind of political surrealism could only be possible in a state in which the labor commissioner doesn’t believe in keeping workplace safety records (that would be Cherie Berry, the woman peering at you in every N.C. elevator).

North Carolina’s worst ozone, as we all know, is right here in Mecklenburg County. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce the country’s strictest-ever ozone limits sometime this month. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, however, has told the EPA it should weigh the economic consequences of cutting ground-level ozone (smog). The DENR, apparently mistaking its role for that of economic soothsayer,  says stricter standards could cause people to lose their jobs, homes and health insurance. Of course, without new standards, people in N.C. could lose their breath, lungs and asthmatic children, but hey, times are tough and you gotta have some priorities, knowwudImsayin?

The DENR also says that, in any case, it can’t enforce tighter regulations because that would mean buying three new ozone monitors, and the agency’s budget has been cut, it’s lost employees, they don’t have a pot to piss in, etc., etc. I’d say the DENR has a great opportunity to go back to the General Assembly and make the case for restoring some of the agency’s funds due to federal mandates. Instead, they tell the EPA it shouldn’t do its job and mandate cleaner air. From the N&O story:

John "Mickey" Aberman, a Charlotte lawyer, sent comments to the EPA describing the asthma suffered by his three children, ages 10, 13 and 18. Aberman said he and his wife have considered moving from Charlotte out of concern for their children's health. "You wonder if living in bad air is a form of child abuse," Aberman said.

To protect kids from smog without freaking them out, we could bring back World War II vintage Mickey Mouse gas masks
  • To protect kids from smog without freaking them out, we could bring back World War II vintage Mickey Mouse gas masks

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