New Jersey authorities are trying to convince the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the state’s air quality has improved, even though 13 counties do not meet the federal clean air standards.
Still, that has not stopped New Jersey environmental officials from asking the EPA to find the state in compliance with the federal standard for fine particulate matter, or soot, according to the Internet news site NJ Spotlight
. The pollutant is blamed each year for tens of thousands of premature deaths associated with asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory ailments.
The request followed two years of research and monitoring of state air quality data, which found the state overall not only met the standard for soot but fell below the threshold level for standards governing ground level ozone pollution, which causes smog.
The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, however, says the state really hasn’t lowered soot emissions enough to meet federal guidelines.
The environmental group says the real reason the pollution levels may be down is because of shutdowns, cutbacks, and other issues affecting pollution output due to the weak economy.
“The trend may be down the last two years because of the recession, not from actions taken by the state,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, told Spotlight.
State environmental officials, however, insist the standards were met by tougher enforcement at power plants and refineries, and through steps to curb pollution associated with consumer products and some transportation fuels.
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