Keep air clean

For the past decade, Chicago has failed to meet clean air standards. In 1988, there were 20 days of unhealthy smog with levels reaching as high as 86 percent above the health standard. About 150 million Americans in more than 100 cities are suffering from unhealthy levels of ozone smog or carbon monoxide, or both.

As a result of acid gas emissions, 3,000 lakes and 23,000 miles of streams have been acidified or are on the brink, according to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. In 1987, Illinois industries emitted 103 million pounds of chemicals into our air. Toxic chemicals released into the air account for over half of the toxic pollutants found in the Great Lakes.

Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has responded to the national air pollution problem by launching a grassroots lobbying campaign aimed at putting public pressure on Congress to renew and strengthen the Clean Air Act without further delay. PIRG is lobbying for a Clean Air Act that would:

CLEAN UP URBAN SMOG by requiring automakers to use newer, more effective pollution control devices on cars, trucks and buses, and by manufacturing cuts in air pollution from electrical utilities and other industries.

STOP ACID RAIN by cutting emissions of sulfur dioxide by 12 million tons, and nitrogen dioxides by four million tons.

CUT TOXIC AIR by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for emissions of some 200 toxic air pollutants from chemical plants and other industrial sources.

Although over 200 organizations and hundreds of thousands of citizens nationwide have been calling for a stronger renewal of the Clean Air Act year in and year out, the industries leading the list for environmental destruction, oil and chemical companies, automakers, electric utilities, coal companies and industrial manufacturers are trying to defeat clean air legislation.

Since 1983, over $6 million dollars have been spent to urge opposition to clean air legislation. And the money seems to talk. In a 1986 study, the PIRGs found that members of a key committee who voted against acid rain legislation received more than twice as much PAC money from corporations opposing the bill than the members who voted for it.

Diane Brown

PIRG director

Northwestern University.

Sara Salemi

Volunteer assistant