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L.A.'s ozone fight: Why can't we all just breathe easy?

DowntownlaLos Angeles survived Carmageddon.  But Ozonegeddon may be a tougher nut to crack.

As The Times reported Tuesday:

Environmental and public health groups filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, saying the agency has failed to force officials to crack down on smog in the Los Angeles Basin.

The suit contends the EPA missed a May deadline to, in effect, determine whether the ozone level in the region is hazardous to public health. Such a determination could trigger tougher limits on pollution from cars, trucks, ships and refineries.

Those filing the suit believe the EPA is hiding a dirty secret, if you will:

In California, the Central Valley and the south coast district are the only two areas that have not met the national standard. The EPA's "silence" on the L.A. region supports the idea the agency "knows we haven't met the standard and it is choosing to not make the determination," said Angela Johnson-Meszaros, an environmental attorney involved in the suit.

Well, yes, no kidding. 

What's almost as interesting as the lawsuit's contentions, though, are some of the comments on the story on The Times' website.

Broadly, they fall into four categories:

One:  L.A.'s air is a lot better than it used to be, so be happy about that.

b4gottmybro:

living in la over 30 yrs i remember some really bad

smoggy days where you could smell it walking outside...

i haven't seen days like this in awhile....i don't drive

and i'm outside walking, taking the air everyday....today is beautiful...

Two:  L.A.'s dirty air is L.A.'s problem, and if it wants to clean it up, go ahead, but don't ask the rest of the state/country to help out.

Swede58:

Promise me one thing Los Angeles... Please... and I mean PLEASE... Don't make the rest of CA pay for it! Your Assembly men/women and Senate men/women come to Sacramento with laws on smog and make US ALL PAY for Los Angeles's issues! This should be handled at local level... not State level!

Thank you,

Tax payer 

Three:  L.A.'s dirty air can't be cleaned up without killing jobs.

madsircool :

Environmentalists are also responsible for being one reason large industry is fleeing Cali and the USA.

Four:  L.A.'s dirty air is cleaner because of EPA rules and the like, and we should make it even cleaner because clean air is a basic right.

IHateTheLATimes:  

This is one of the few issues that the Left was, and is correct about.  Polluting the public commons is unacceptable and forcing polluters to clean up their equipment is a small price to pay for our access to the most basic necessities.  One need only visit Beijing to understand how much the quality of life is affected by pollution.

And then, of course, there's the, uh, fringe element:

TeaPublican of the Dakotas:

People in California are going to be so happy after the Presidential election of 2012!

We TeaPublicans ARE going to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency….it’s all part of our plan of taking America back!  Good manufacturing jobs moved overseas over the last two decades because of all the ridiculous EPA clean water and air Acts!

We Teapublicans will take care of this problem in 2012!  Yes, we WILL abolish the EPA!  Hey, you know what?  I am starting to hear that it's going to be Bachmann/Thune in 2012!  Wouldn't that be cool!!!

Anyway, this unscientific sampling shows several things:  People want clean air; not everyone is willing to pay for clean air; some people prefer a job over clean air; and a number of people are mostly hot air.

(Also, with a nod to our Dakota poster, some people need to get a little fresh air once in a while.  Maybe go visit Mt. Rushmore again or something.)

Finally, the story makes three points that are hard to argue with.

First:

The Los Angeles area has a long history of elevated ozone levels, and the American Lung Assn., in its annual State of the Air report, recently determined that the region has the highest ozone level in the nation.

Second:

"Angelenos continue to breathe smoggy air that makes people sick, forcing mothers to question whether to allow children to play outside on dirty air days," said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for the NRDC. "These are choices mothers should not have to make."

And third:

In Los Angeles, an estimated 1 million adults and 300,000 children have asthma, outranking 23 other congested cities, according to the American Lung Assn.'s 2011 State of the Air report.

Seems to me that about says it all.  Jobs are nice, but as for me, I like breathing too.

RELATED:

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--Paul Whitefield 

Photo: The downtown Los Angeles skyline. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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