Maryland must do more for clean air [Letter]

Fortunately for Marylanders, Gov. Martin O'Malley has had the foresight to transition our state toward renewable energy sources for power generation. As a result of the passage of the Off-Shore Wind Bill and the veto of House Bill 1168, an anti-on-land wind bill, Governor O'Malley has established wind power as a viable and significant source of energy for Marylanders in the future. Nevertheless, Maryland now has one of the highest sources of air pollution in the East. The 2014 State of the Air Report released by the American Lung Association rates Baltimore City with the grades of F and D for ozone and fine particle pollution, respectively. Over 14,000 children and more than 44,000 adults suffer from asthma in Baltimore City — a condition known to be exacerbated by exposure to high levels of ozone and fine particle pollution. Pollution does not stop at jurisdictional boundaries either. Fully half of the counties in Maryland received the grade of F for Ozone pollution in the recent State of the Air Report. (The other counties could not be assessed due to insufficient data.)

Under Mr. O'Malley's leadership, the Maryland Department of the Environment has promulgated regulations to limit both nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides, precursors of ozone and fine particle pollution. The stakeholder process for the consideration of the sulfur dioxide regulations will continue on Monday, June 23 with a meeting at MDE in Baltimore. MDE is to be commended for issuing a strong set of draft regulations but push-back from industry may result in the weakening of these regulations. Fifty-two legislators and officials have urged MDE to stand firm. We also ask MDE to continue to work to improve the health of Marylanders by standing firm on regulations designed to reduce nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides.

Donna McDowell

The writer is vice chair of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club.

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