CSJs Co-sponsor Clean Air Event in St. Louis


Associate Diana Oleskevich, CSJA justice office coordinator, represents the Sisters of St. Joseph at Clean Air Day 2010. She is pictured with Sierra Club members Frank Loberbaum, volunteer and Michael Berg, Missouri Chapter staff.


As part of a National Clean Air Day, Metro and the Sierra Club, along with Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and others held an “I Heart Clean Air” event at the Civic Center MetroLink station on March 16. Participants at the event thanked Metro riders for helping to keep our air clean with an “I Heart Clean Air” gift, recognizing that Metro riders help keep the air clean for all of us.

The event, one of dozens held nationwide, brought together clean air advocates to support efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen safeguards against smog under the Clean Air Act. With a 40 year track record of successfully reducing pollution even during a time of economic expansion, the Clean Air Act proposal will bring significant reductions in dangerous smog.

Smog is ground-level ozone formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix with sunlight. The worst contributors to the problem are emissions from vehicles and coal-fired power plants. A smog standard such as the one proposed by the EPA would help us work toward a cleaner, healthier future for the St. Louis area.

“The new smog limits EPA is proposing will help us all breathe a little easier and will promote smarter transportation choices – from transit to safe biking and walking and better planning to reduce congestion said Becky Denney, a local Sierra Club volunteer. She added “Metro is a smart transportation choice we can all applaud.”

Motor vehicles contribute 25% of the hydrocarbon emissions in the St. Louis region which, when mixed with air, form ground level ozone. “Each work day, Metro takes an average of 45,000 vehicles off the road,” said Metro Chief Operating Officer Ray Friem.

“Taking public transit, biking and walking are smart transportation choices for reducing one’s contribution to smog,” said Friem. When an individual switches to public transit, they can reduce their daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds per day or 4,800 pounds per year.

St. Louis continues to take steps to promote smarter transportation but that will only get us so far. It’s also time to start cleaning up and moving away from dirty energy sources, like the many coal plants that surround the St. Louis metro area, and transitioning to cleaner energy options” said Melissa Hope, Associate Regional Representative in Missouri for Sierra Club’s hugely successful Beyond Coal Campaign.

The day's events included everything from rallies to scavenger hunts to identify the smoggiest places, thank-you gifts for metro riders to Clean Air Olympics with black smoke bubble contests. With participation from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Black and Hispanic Youth Caucuses, students, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, just to name a few, the events show the widespread support for clean air.

“Clean air is not just an environmental issue; it’s also a health issue, an economic issue and an environmental justice issue. Moms, people with asthma, people who just enjoy the outdoors—everyone wants to be able to breathe worry free,” said Diana Oleskevich, Justice Coordinator for Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

EPA’s proposal calls for the primary limit for ozone, or smog, to be lowered to between 60 and 70 parts per billion—within the range that doctors and scientists say is protective of human health. The agency is also proposing to lower the secondary limit, which helps to lessen environmental problems like haze.

The Sierra Club would like to see the standards set at the more protective limits for both the primary and secondary standards. These lower levels will do the most to protect public health and help ensure that our natural places and the economies that rely on them are protected.

The agency is taking public comment on the proposed rule until March 22nd.

More information...

For more on the proposed rule and the event:

Maps of non-attainment counties in regards to the new ozone standards: http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/pdfs/20100104maps.pdf

EPA Ground Level Ozone: http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/actions.html#jan10s

St. Louis Air Quality data:

Health and Ozone:

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