Environmental Defense Asks Governors To Clean Up Dirty Air

On May 10th, Environmental Defense called on the governors of Southeastern states to mount a coordinated and comprehensive attack on the region's dirty air and adopt policies to improve air quality. N.C. Governor Mike Easley is hosting an annual air summit for Southeastern governors today in Charlotte, N.C.

"More than 33 million people in the Southeast live in counties with unhealthy, smoggy air," said Jane Preyer, director of the North Carolina office of Environmental Defense, which this week issued a landmark report that recommends 11 strategies for improving Southeastern air quality. The report, "Blueprint for Breathing Easier: Southeast Energy Strategy for Clean Air," is available at www.environmentaldefense.org.www.environmentaldefense.org.

"Air pollution is a public health issue in the Southeast. Tiny particles emitted from coal-fired power plants cause 11,000 deaths in the Southeast annually. Smog triggers 1.7 million asthma attacks in the Southeast annually. More than 13,200 infants are born in the Southeast each year with neurological damage due to mercury exposure," said Preyer. "The air we are breathing is hazardous to our health. This is unacceptable by any measure."

"Southeastern states cannot wait for guidance from the federal level to start cleaning up air pollution. It's time for the Southeastern governors to line up and launch a coordinated and comprehensive attack that will improve air quality and reduce excessive energy consumption," said Preyer.

"As a first step, every state should have clean smokestacks legislation to reduce pollution emitted from outdated power plants. Governor Easley's efforts to get the Clean Smokestacks Bill passed in the North Carolina General Assembly this session is setting an example for other states to follow," said Preyer. "Equally important, lawmakers and regulators must work together and adopt regional policies to make our air healthier to breathe."

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