the clean air act

Science, it’s worth remembering, doesn’t read your Tweets. It doesn’t care about the size of your Electoral College victory.
—  Jeffrey Kluger in Time Magazine, “Why Trump Will Lose His War on Science.” Read it here.
Congress Is Not Going to Pass That Bill to 'Terminate the EPA'
Instead, it will restrict the agency in far subtler ways.
By Robinson Meyer

The first is simple: It is not nearly long enough. A slew of federal laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, assume that the EPA exists and charge it with tasks. Just last year, Congress passed a new chemical-safety law that handed new powers to the EPA. Any law seeking to “terminate the EPA” would have to amend all those older laws that delegate authority to the agency. You cannot easily do that in a 10-word sentence.

Second, while the election of Trump—a fierce EPA critic—might indicate otherwise, a large majority of Americans like the agency. Three in five Americans say strict environmental regulations are worth their cost. Even most Republican voters want the EPA to basically stay the same.

“Terminating the EPA,” meanwhile, sounds drastic and bad. (That’s because it would be drastic and bad.) Many House Republicans in swing districts have told voters that they will reduce the agency’s “anti-business” red tape. They have not told voters they would destroy it completely, and it is likely that they will encounter high public resistance if they move to eliminate it.

Third, any major piece of legislation will have to pass a filibuster in the Senate, and it is extremely unlikely that eight Democratic senators could be found who would send the agency to its death. For that matter, it is extremely unlikely that enough Republicans could be found. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, rejected Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the EPA on Wednesday because she determined he was too hostile to the agency’s purpose.

What is smog?

On July 26, 1943, Los Angeles was blanketed by a thick gas that stung people’s eyes and blocked out the Sun. Panicked residents believed their city had been attacked using chemical warfare. But the cloud wasn’t an act of war. It was smog. A portmanteau of smoke and fog, the word smog was coined at the beginning of the 20th century to describe the thick gray haze that covered cities such as London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

This industrial smog was known to form when smoke from coal-burning home stoves and factories combined with moisture in the air. But the smog behind the LA panic was different. It was yellowish with a chemical odor. Since the city didn’t burn much coal, its cause would remain a mystery until a chemist named Arie Haagen-Smit identified two culprits, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and nitrous oxides. VOCs are compounds that easily become vapors and may contain elements, such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Some are naturally produced by plants and animals, but others come from manmade sources, like solvents, paints, glues, and petroleum. Meanwhile, the incomplete combustion of gas in motor vehicles  releases nitrous oxide. That’s what gives this type of smog its yellowish color.

VOCs and nitrous oxide react with sunlight to produce secondary pollutants called PANs and tropospheric, or ground level, ozone. PANs and ozone cause eye irritation and damage lung tissue. Both are key ingredients in photochemical smog, which is what had been plaguing LA. 

Smog isn’t just an aesthetic eyesore. The two forms of smog irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, exacerbate conditions like asthma and emphysema, and increase the risk of respiratory infections like bronchitis. Smog can be especially harmful to young children and older people and exposure in pregnant women has been linked to low birth weight and potential birth defects. Secondary pollutants found in photochemical smog can damage and weaken crops and decrease yield, making them more susceptible to insects.

After the Great Smog of London shut down all transportation in the city for days and caused more than 4,000 respiratory deaths, the Clean Air Act of 1956 banned burning coal in certain areas of the city, leading to a massive reduction in smog. Similarly, regulations on vehicle emissions and gas content in the US reduced the volatile compounds in the air and smog levels along with them. 

Smog remains a major problem around the world. Countries like China and Poland that depend on coal for energy experience high levels of industrial smog. Photochemical smog and airborne particles from vehicle emissions affect many rapidly developing cities, from Mexico City and Santiago to New Delhi and Tehran. Governments have tried many methods to tackle it, such as banning cars from driving for days at a time. As more than half of the world’s population crowds into cities, considering a shift to mass transit and away from fossil fuels may allow us to breathe easier.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The science of smog - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Juan M. Urbina Studios


December 5th 1952: Great Smog of London begins

On this day in 1952, the Great Smog descended on London, beginning a national crisis which lasted for four days. Following the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late eighteenth century, London saw a sharp rise in polluted, smoky fog (known as smog) due to toxic coal fumes emitted by factories. Smog, unlike fog, is often thick, discoloured, and foul-smelling, and several smogs affected London throughout the nineteenth century. December 1952 was bitterly cold, and as Londoners burned large amounts of coal to keep warm, the smoke joined with toxic fumes from factories. The smoke was trapped by an anticyclone in the region, and, unable to disperse, combined with fog to create a smog. The thick smog caused chaos in London, with traffic halted by poor visibility of a few metres, opportunists committing crime, and the poisonous air filling hospitals with people suffering from breathing problems. Around 4,000 people, plus numerous animals and livestock, are known to have died as a result of the fog, though recent estimates taking into account long-term damage are much higher at 12,000. The smog was London’s worst civilian disaster, producing more casualties than any single incident during the Second World War and the Blitz. To prevent future disasters, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956 which tried to limit smoke emissions. Innovations in technology and environmental legislation ensured that no such smog has ever occurred again, but invisible pollution remains a grave concern for modern cities.


Basically, the fossil fuel industry has sent a raiding party into EPA and taken it over… I think he feels a kind of immunity from any kind of accountability because the fossil fuel industry so owns the Republican Party and so owns him.
—  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. From @politico Morning Energy.
My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.
—  The lying asshole who put climate change skeptics/deniers in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of the Interior; repealed the Stream Protection Rule; removed funding for the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Air Act, the Green Climate Fund, and the EPA itself; revived the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines; and whose administration is rolling back regulations on methane emissions and vehicle pollution standards and is “reconsidering” the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards and the Clean Water Act
Via the Alt National Park Service

Important Public Alert:
Have you heard of the Regulatory Accountability Act H.R.5? Congress is moving forward with this sweeping legislation that could undercut major laws that keep our food, water, workers and children’s products safe. Yet, little attention has been paid to the Regulatory Accountability Act which would fundamentally alter how Americans protect themselves from unsafe pollution, chemicals, drugs and other dangers—by undermining the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety, and Health Act and a slew of other laws affecting public health and safety. Rather than repealing these popular laws, the bill would simply hobble them by, in effect, preventing agencies from creating or enforcing rules under such laws. The sound-bite description of the bill makes the Regulatory Accountability Act sound “reasonable”: Cut red tape and reduce government regulation. In reality, it would tie federal agencies in knots.

This is a full-fledged environmental emergency, and we have a person who’s not just a climate denier, but a professional climate denier. This is going to be a litmus test for every member of the Senate who claims not to be a denier.
—  Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, on Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as EPA head. Learn more. 

May 28th 1892: Sierra Club founded

On this day in 1892, John Muir founded the famous environmental organisation - the Sierra Club - in San Francisco, California. Muir was a notable conservationist and preservationist and became the Club’s first president. The Sierra Club worked to establish and protect federal national parks, most famously Yosemite National Park. Their cause received a boost during the Progressive Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency (1901-1909), who was a naturalist like Muir. Some of the Club’s most notable successes since 1892 came during Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programme, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Sierra Club continues to be an influential group in the United States as one of the largest pressure groups in the nation. It has a significant influence over environmental issues and dedicates itself to tackling climate change and damage to the environment, most recently protesting against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Boyfriend Pens (and Party Pie)

Title: Boyfriend Pens
Rating: Teen and Up
Summary: Clint has just figured out the pens Bucky keeps giving him are boyfriend pens. This is no way for the President of the United States to find out he’s in a relationship.
Notes: Set in the Leader Of The Free World universe, where Clint Barton was elected president and Tony Stark secretly rules the world. For more in the LotFW ‘verse, you can read the AO3 fic collection here or the tumblr headcanon collection here. This particular story comes from a specific headcanon about boyfriend pens


Clint was in a meeting with the Deputy Secretary of Education (the Secretary had resigned mysteriously a few days ago, Clint had a note to talk to Tony about it) when he looked down at his pen and had a sudden revelation.

He let out a brief, low-pitched yelp. Just one, and not too loud, but it did cause the Deputy Secretary of Education to stop talking and squint.

“Are you all right, Mr. President?” he asked carefully.

“Yeah! Yeah, sorry,” Clint said, looking up from his pen, because he was after all the President of the United States, and he had larger orders of business to attend to than the pen and all it symbolized, as much as he hated to admit it. “Momentary cramp.”

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“Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things…every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.”
– Matt Santos, The West Wing

166 million Americans live in areas that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, raising their risk of lung cancer, asthma attacks, heart disease, reproductive problems.

The American Lung Association 

More than half of the US population lives amid dangerous air pollution levels— yet still there are extreme measures to undermine the Clean Air Act. 


‘Millfield’, one of the Doxford Shipyard locomotives, sits between duties while an unidentified counterpart moves out of the shed just within sight on the right. The smoggy air and dirt around this heavy industry was typical of industrial operations in cities like Sunderland, where Doxford was located, but before long due to the ‘clean air act’, these scenes would be, in the majority, consigned to the history books in Britain.

It’s true. Republicans have tried to turn liberal into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.“
"A Republican President ended slavery.”
“Yes, a liberal Republican, Senator. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the liberal party? I’ll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things ­ every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, Senator. Because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.
—  The West Wing Season 7 Episode 7