Leave No Particulate Matter Behind

Illustration by Lou Beach

GEORGE W. BUSH DECLARED in last week’s debate that the air has gotten cleaner since he’s been in office.

Thanks to the continuing effectiveness of the Clean Air Act, which became law at the end of 1970, that’s a little bit true. But it’s like saying that, since Bush has been in office, porcupine caribou haven’t done too badly in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

And it’s not even that simple: Overall emissions have continued to decline — though not by much — since 2001, but some pollutants have gone up. Sulfur dioxide, for instance, the main component in the acid raid that’s rendering lakes and rivers sterile from Maine to Montana, rose 4 percent — 600,000 tons — thanks to lax enforcement of existing rules regulating emissions from coal-fueled power plants. (See chart below.) If Bush gets his way in November, both the Clean Air Act and ANWR will likely be history.

Now That’s a Scary Thought

“The Bush administration continues to fumble around in the darkness of ignorance and the quagmire of special interest, while the Russians are demonstrating world leadership.”

—Independent Senator Jim Jeffords on the Russians’ ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming

Old-Growth Quote

“He is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump to make a speech about conservation.”

—Adlai Stevenson on Richard M. Nixon

“[Al Gore] . . . reminds me of Richard Nixon . . . the kind of politician who would cut down a tree, then stand on a stump and talk about conservation.”

—Bill Bradley, New Hampshire Democratic presidential candidate debate, January 26, 2000

“George Bush is the kind of politician who would cut down a tree and then climb on the stump that remains to give a speech about conservation.”

—Senator John Kerry on the campaign trail, 2004

And While He’s at It . . .

“Nixon seems to equate criticism with subversion and being hard on Republicans to being soft on communism.”

—Adlai Stevenson

“George Bush seems to confuse being hard on Republicans with being soft on terrorists.”

—No one, yet — but isn’t it a good idea?

The above is from Judith Lewis’ L.A. Weekly blog, Beat Notes on the Environment

Two Words for You

For those who now loudly protest that two years ago “everyone” thought Saddam Hussein had WMD I have only two words for you: Scott Ritter.

—Marc Cooper, from his blog, marccooper.com

Millions of Tons Per Year

YEAR 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2002 2003 CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) 197.3 184.0 177.8 169.6 143.6 120.0 102.4 96.4 93.7 NITROGEN OXIDES (NOx) 26.9 26.4 27.1 25.8 25.1 24.7 22.3 20.8 20.5 PARTICULATE MATTER (PM) 10 12.2 7.0 6.2 3.6 3.2 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.3 PM 2.5 NA NA NA NA 2.3 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8 SULFUR DIOXIDE (SO2) 31.2 28.0 25.9 23.3 23.1 16.3 16.3 15.3 15.8 VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC) 33.7 30.2 30.1 26.9 23.1 16.9 16.9 15.8 15.4 LEAD 0.221 0.16 0.074 0.022 0.005 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.003 TOTALS 301.5 275.8 267.2 249.2 218.1 160.2 160.2 150.2 147.7


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