It's early October, which means harvest time is on the way. And The Clean Air Campaign has transportation and air quality news by the bushel. So, slip on your work gloves and reap what we've sown in the latest edition of Merging Lanes.
Smog Season Wrap Up: Sigh of Relief
The 2009 Smog Season concluded last week and, amazingly, was one of the quietest for ground-level ozone in the past decade. To be sure, Georgia caught a big break. The final tally for unhealthy air days -- 18 across the state, with 16 of those days occurring in metro Atlanta -- was aided by more rainfall, cooler temperatures and slightly windier conditions. What really stands out is that the 2009 Smog Season never brought a Code Red day. The 18 smog days we experienced were all within the Code Orange range. Ground-level ozone is less likely to form outside the period between May and September. But stay on your toes, because particle pollution is a year-round problem in Georgia, creating more risks to respiratory health.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
Ground-Level Ozone Standards Revisited
The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with establishing and updating "national ambient air quality standards" to protect public health and welfare. In March of 2008, the EPA rolled out a new standard for ground-level ozone that was tougher than the previous standard. The rationale for tightening the standard was that scientific evidence suggested exposure to ground-level ozone at lower concentrations still posed a significant health hazard. While the business community reacted with concern that the revised standards were too strict, health and environmental advocates were concerned the revised standards didn't go far enough. Since that time, a new administration has entered the White House and news broke last week that the standard will be revisited again, with the possibility of a revised standard being introduced in mid-2010. This has big implications for areas like Columbus, Augusta, Athens and Macon. Specific counties in these regions were recommended earlier this year by Georgia EPD to be reclassified as non-attainment areas for ground-level ozone. The designation process for these areas was slated to conclude in March of 2010, but has now been moved to 2011. With the extra time afforded them, commuters, employers and schools in these areas can do more to put programs in place to improve air quality. But the fact that the clock is now ticking a little slower should not become an excuse for complacency. Through its partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, The Clean Air Campaign is ready to help more organizations in these locales. Call us.
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Good Works Garnering Accolades
Some of the best work to curb traffic and smog is happening right here in Georgia. In the past couple of months, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have been recognized nationally by the Association for Commuter Transportation and within the state by Conserve Georgia for our efforts in the shared pursuit of clean air and less traffic. But we certainly couldn't have earned these accolades without help from the legions of commuters and employers like you who have taken action. A thunderous round of applause for YOU. You're part of the solution that is eliminating 1.6 million miles of vehicle travel and keeping 800 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe EACH DAY. But we know there's more work we can do together ... read on for another idea about how you can help even more.
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Clean Commuting: Always in Fashion
The Clean Air Campaign's mainstay $3 a day incentive that encourages current drive-alone commuters to make the switch had a huge year in 2008, bolstered by skyrocketing gas prices and an awakening among many commuters that using alternatives to driving alone makes sense. That was then. This is now. Falling prices at the pump ($2.30/gallon is now a steal when compared with the $4 we shelled out last year), combined with the aftershock of the recession and pressure being felt within the labor market are a few reasons that new participation in The Clean Air Campaign's incentives programs has slowed (though research findings show 74% of "graduates" from the $3 incentive program last year were still clean commuting 18-24 months after their incentive was exhausted). To spice things up a little, we are taking a cue from other businesses looking to drum up patronage. The Clean Air Campaign is awarding a fun t-shirt to the next 2,000 commuters to sign up for the $3 a day incentive program. Get the scoop here and tell all your friends and co-workers who drive alone about this limited-time offer. You can be more than a clean commuter. You can become an ambassador for clean commuting.