Tuesday, April 25, 2006

50% Right, But Yet 100% Wrong

Bush took a stab at the rising gas price issue today.

he got part of it right... and part of it wrong...

For the right part, he called on oil companies to use their record profits to research alternative energy source. He also called on congress to rescind the $2 billion in tax breaks that they just gave the oil industry. Here, the president does have it right.

But where he went wrong, he really went wrong. Bush has decided to suspend the national Clean Air Act which requires some areas of the united states to use a cleaner burning ethanol/gas mix in the summer months. The areas that are required by law to use this cleaner burning mix are areas that do not meet the national standard for clean air.

And this is why Bush went so wrong - he is playing politics with you and your family's health. Yes, gas prices are high. And suspending the law is estimated to drop the price of gas no more than 10-20 cents per gallon (depending on the mix levels), and only in the areas where the law requires the mix. He is willing to expose you and your children to un-safe levels of ground level ozone for 10-20 cents a gallon. Around 100 cities nationally are currently not in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

In the summer months, the sun bakes ground level volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and turns them into ground level ozone (also known as smog). The un-safe levels of smog affect your respiratory and circulatory system. It causes heart attacks and emphysema in older people, and causes asthma in younger people. Ground level ozone kills more Americans every year than all terrorist attacks in the history of the United States, Israel, Iraq and Pakistan combined. Just a simple rise of 10 parts per billion is estimated to kill an additional 3800 Americans yearly. If you take ino account the cost of the 160,000 emergancy room visits each summer caused by smog, and the over 6,000,000 asthma attacks it triggers each year, 10 cents a gallon is a bargain.

Areas who did not meet the Clean Air Act standards were required to use the ethanol/gas mix to reduce the amount of harmful smog in cities and urban areas.

So, yes, you may get a little lower gas price, but at the expense of your family's health. You will have to keep your kids in the house on high ozone days, and the only way you will be able to enjoy the gas price savings is by how much less you will have to drive your family to a rural area so they can get outside to play.

Additionally, does anyone think that gas prices are going to be coming down anytime soon... and by soon, I mean ever? Temporary will easily turn into permanent. Geo-political factors affecting the price of gas will not be gone by next summer. China will still need oil. India will still need oil. Iran will still be a pain in our ass. Iraq will still be at sub-par production. And Chavez will still be a socialist.

Suspending the Clean Air Act is only a band-aid that will only infect the wound, and not help it heal. The only real alternative is conservation. So, peal the yellow ribbon off your SUV, slap it on to a fuel efficient car, put in some energy efficient light bulbs in your house, set the air conditioner to 78 instead of 68, and buy a bike.

Personally, I would pay the extra 10 cents a gallon for the pleasure of actually being able to go outside.

Bush takes aim at gasoline prices

Bush Eases Environmental Rules on Gasoline

Bush Eases Environmental Rules on Gasoline

What is ground-level ozone?

Asthma, Smog and Your Health


Bob said...

When you can't breathe, nothing else matters.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

I'm upset he's using the reserves.

Inconvenience is not a national security matter.

As for ground natural level ozone, I say BS. That isn't the problem. The real problem are the VOC's that are everywhere- in carpets, fabrics, etc.

That these industries have bought their way, via lobby groups and contributions to political campaigns, for decades, is an outrage.

This is something I have some familiarity with. A close relative's (child)illness and subsequent demise was attributed to a sensitivity of VOC's.

Tragically, it could have been avoided. Carpet manufacturers do not even have to label appropriately.

FYI, there are organic carpets on the market. If you or any of your readers kids suffers asthma or any kind of respiratory ailments, look into this.

VOC can be emitted for DECADES.

Sorry to be so preachy.

Dingo said...

it is ok to be preachy, but you are talking about an altogether different pathology there in the carpets.

If it were internal pollutants that were the biggest issue, we would see respiratory problems go up in the winter months when we lock ourselves inside and breath recycled air. But, in actuality, problems go up in the summer months when ozone and fine particulate matter are more prevalent.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

That argument has been made before.

It is usually answered by noting that VOC's are more potent in the summer because open doors and windows keep VOC's 'agitated.'

That said, I was not implying that only a certain kind of VOC is dangerous. They all are- adn taken together, they are a witches brew.