Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wait or Wade In?

The EPA has signaled its intent to Gov. Gregoire and the Washington State Department of Ecology that EPA will accept the recommendations and boundaries for PM 2.5 non-attainment areas in the state.

Posted with several earlier stories on this blog, the Chamber has been active and partly successful in the public debate of this issue.

With it all but a fait accompli for the designation of the "Wapato Hills-Puyallup River Valley" (as a nom de guerre for the heart of the Tacoma metro) non-attainment area, it is time for the community to begin now to take advantage of what should be opportunities to be first in line for curative or restorative fixes.

Already, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) received $650,000 in funds from Ecology provided to replace old, high-polluting wood-fired stoves with new, cleaner one in non-attainment communities. That's in addition to earlier $175,000 funding, too much of which went to the Marysville community. Marysville has documented problems, but not severe enough or documented enough to qualify for non-attainment designation.

We note that the PSCAA and the Port of Tacoma are already working to reduce pollution from Port operations (although port-area monitors have not exceeded the new federal standards).

It is likewise time for our public leadership to begin an advocacy for prioritization of public projects (road and transit) that will cure the public health concerns raised by the non-attainment designation. With the impending EPA ruling expected December 18, there is no reason for waiting before we begin a two-year planning effort, then a subsequent fixing period.

Now is the time to start!

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