A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Strike Three

Last Friday witnessed the Portland area's third violation of 8-hour ozone standards this summer. The graph below shows ozone levels measured at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth for the past 30 days, with the current federal limit shown as the horizontal black line at 80 parts per billion and the proposed new limit shown as the red line, at 70 ppb:

In addition to a violation in June, these latest violations put Portland on the verge of "nonattainment" under the Clean Air Act, which would cut federal funding for our infrastructure and also put new limitations on local industries. With the new limits proposed by the Bush administration, Portland would certainly receive punishment for nonattainment.

At this point, the fiscally responsible thing to do would be to invest seriously in transportation alternatives for commuters and tourists in Maine. Motor vehicles are the biggest sources of ozone pollution in the summer. Continuing multi-million dollar expenditures on parking lots and freeway lanes will not only lay waste to our lungs: under the provisions and penalties of the Clean Air Act, it will also lay waste to our tax dollars.

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