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The Daily Planet's Opinion: May 2019
Thursday, 02 May 2019 15:25

WNC air quality improves; let’s do even better

We rejoice in the news that the air in Western North Carolina is “amazingly” cleaner than it was not only at a low point in the 1970s, when the area was besieged with serious and massive air pollution, but also better than in the past several years.

The result is improved public health and welfare for human beings, as well as less negative impact on the environment, all of which should have beneficial impacts on the local economy, experts say.

The good news about the region’s air quality improvement was delivered by Mike Abraczinskas, director of the N.C. Division of Air Quality, and other air quality experts who spoke at the annual “State of Our Air” conference March 29 at Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville.

“Ozone and fine particulate issues used to be front and center, and extremely complex and difficult issues for us in the mid-to-late-90s and early 2000s. They are no longer our primary issues. That’s wonderful news.” Abraczinskas said, according to a story on the conference in the Asheville Citizen Times “We’ve taken 100 million pounds of toxic air emissions out of the atmosphere over the last 18 years. This is critically important.”

He also said that greenhouse gas emissions from point sources across North Carolina have plummeted by 100 million pounds over the past 20 years.

The experts at the conference credited the cleaner air to “factors including partnerships from local cities and counties, to the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, legislation including the 1970 Clean Air Act to the Clean Smokestacks Act of 2002, reduction of pollution emissions from power plants and automobiles, lower prices for natural gas and market changes that no one saw coming,” the ACT reported.

We join the experts in celebrating WNC’s air quality improvement. Also, we agree with their assessment that we must remain vigilant and not become complacent, given projected pressures from booming population growth locally.



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