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Sharing Blame for Smog

July 17, 1988

Re: Harriett M. Wieder Commentary, (July 10):

Not that blame for air pollution doesn't fall in a considerable degree on us drivers, but typically the article fails to mention emission sources that are significant but politically shielded.

For years it has been politically expedient to put most of the blame for dirty air on the automobile. Drivers are not organized to lobby for relief from blame or the imposition of costly and relatively useless smog controls on cars.

It has not been expedient to go after two very large categories of polluters. Each produces enormous tonnages of emissions. Year after year we read Air Quality Management District statistics showing that we are experiencing improved air quality. Regardless of tortured facts and managed statistics, the incidence of unpleasant and unhealthy air quality is still with us.

Shouldn't any serious effort to improve air quality impose effective restrictions on these two polluters?

Who are these two polluters? The first category includes fossil-fuel burning electric generating plants. From Ventura County to San Diego County they dot our coastline and with the prevailing onshore winds pollute almost entirely the Southern California empire. Regardless of fuels burned and the limited controls on them, these polluters give us thousands of tons of oxides of nitrogen, an essential ingredient of noxious smog.

The second category includes the diesel engine. Uncontrolled in hundreds of thousands of installations (including stationary) and trucks, buses and cars, these engines belch out noxious, greasy, black emissions on our streets and all our freeways.

Effective controls on these two polluters would help. It would not be easy to regulate these two polluters. Nor would it be easy to curb automobile driving in Southern California which is, however necessary, a privilege. Such a program together with more effective regulation of large industrial polluters offers the only real hope for better air quality in the near future.

Until such actions are taken I believe we are wasting most of the millions being thrown at the air quality effort. Until our elected officials can stand up to the lobbyists and pleas of industry, I believe we are continuing to jeopardize our health and degrade the quality of life we want and think we're paying for.


Corona del Mar

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