Newsday Editorial: Find ways to clear the air

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Published: April 29, 2011 
 

For every diesel-burning engine replaced by one that uses a less noxious fuel, we can breathe a little easier. So Suffolk County's move in that direction is good, but it's not enough. Before we can make a big difference in air quality, we have a long to-do list to check off.

Every year, the American Lung Association reports on the "State of the Air" around the country. This year, for the 12th in a row, Suffolk had a failing grade for ozone, though there was some improvement in the amount of particulate pollution.

Last Wednesday, County Executive Steve Levy did a press event about two new compressed natural gas facilities the county is building to fuel its fleet. That's a good green initiative, but all by itself, it won't mean much.

We also have to increase the portion of freight coming to the Island by train, to reduce truck traffic on our roads. There was to have been a rail-to-truck intermodal facility in Brentwood, but that idea is mostly dead. Government must find a way, like multiple small intermodals, to reduce the impact on any one community, but still get trucks off the roads.

We also need more transit-oriented development, to let people live right near mass transit and use cars less. And better emissions controls at Midwest power plants, a key source of air pollution here, would be a big help.

What we don't need is any weakening of clean air laws, federal or state, as some propose. Breathing is tough enough already, without making polluting easier.