In an effort to make the air cleaner for some 49 million Americans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will strengthen smog-reduction plans in nine major urban areas with the most challenging air pollution problems in the nation.
The nine metropolitan areas targeted include Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Greater Connecticut (Hartford), Houston, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"Each of the plans we reviewed shows a strong commitment to reducing harmful air pollutants that cause smog," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "We are confident that, working with states and cities, we can finalize flexible, common-sense approaches to reducing pollution and bring cleaner, healthier air to breathe for millions of Americans within the next decade."
This preliminary EPA review involved air quality plans for 10 areas covering 13 states and the District of Columbia. Regarding the plans already reviewed, EPA concluded that every plan, but that for western Massachusetts, needs further work to protect public health and the environment. On Nov. 15, EPA received significant plan revisions for the Houston-Galveston area that are currently under expedited review.
Under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Congress required these areas to develop plans for providing cleaner air to their citizens. Except for western Massachusetts, each of the areas will need to update their transportation and air quality planning to ensure that public health and the environment are protected.
According to EPA, each year, smog is responsible for millions of cases of serious respiratory disorders and reduced lung capacity.