American Lung Association of Illinois Releases 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”

(February 25, 2013)

Warns that impending sequestration cuts may hurt Chicagoans with lung disease

Mike Kolleng, Manager - Healthy Air Campaign

American Lung Association of Illinois Releases
2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”
Warns that impending sequestration cuts may hurt Chicagoans with lung disease

The American Lung Association in Illinois today released the priorities of its 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda,” a plan of action for the Obama Administration and the 113th Congress that will ensure the Clean Air Act is implemented and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains its authority to ensure all Americans can have air that is safe and healthy to breathe. 

“Healthy air begins and ends with a strong EPA,” said Mike Kolleng, Healthy Air Campaign Manager for the American Lung Association in Illinois.  “Anyone with asthma, COPD, or other lung diseases will be affected if these massive cuts are realized. Our representatives need to know that lives are in the balance.”

The Agenda is being released as Congress ushers in large-scale, arbitrary cuts to EPA and other agencies through sequestration. The American Lung Association in Illinois warns that these cuts will have a direct and immediate impact on the health of Chicago residents.

“Sequestration could significantly reduce, if not eliminate, air pollution monitoring in Illinois and neighboring states,” said Kolleng. “Millions of Illinoisans, especially those with asthma and lung disease, will be put at risk if EPA loses the ability to monitor toxic air pollution, smog and other hazards.”

The Healthy Air Agenda is organized into four key areas:

  • Funding research & enforcement
    Preventing additional cuts to the EPA will enable the agency to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health and meet national clean air goals.
  • Full implementation of the Clean Air Act
    To truly improve the health of millions of people across the nation and save thousands of lives every year, full implementation of all Clean Air Act updates, rules, and standards is needed – without threats to these life-saving protections.
  • Smokestacks – Clean up coal-fired power plants (both existing and new)
    Power plants, in particular those fired by coal, are a major source of hazardous pollutants, and are also the biggest source of carbon pollution that is linked to climate change.
  • Tailpipes – Clean up gasoline and vehicles
    The EPA needs to update standards to control smog-forming and particle pollution from passenger vehicles by reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline and setting tighter tailpipe pollution limits on new vehicles.

With Congress in recess this week, the American Lung Association in Illinois hopes Illinois residents will urge their representatives to protect EPA from drastic cuts.

“Simply put, air pollution makes people sick. Less air pollution means fewer asthma attacks, fewer heart attacks, and fewer premature deaths,” said Kolleng. “This agenda is a road map for legislators and clean air advocates across the state. It’s the quickest, most effective way to make sure our air is safe to breathe.”

Last year, The American Lung Association gave Cook County an “F” for particle pollution and ozone (smog) in its annual State of the Air report. Chicago’s air quality was ranked 18th most polluted city in the nation. More than 700,000 people in Cook County suffer from lung disease.

Details on the Healthy Air Agenda can be found on the American Lung Association’s “Fighting for Air” website.