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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

State, Local Agencies Map Global Warming Strategies, Harmonize With Controls on Smog and Soot

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

There is significant evidence that global warming is occurring and that it is partially due to the increased concentration of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. The following news release announces a new study, which reveals strategies for reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution concurrently.


State and local air pollution control agencies could make significant reductions in gases linked to global warming through their choice of cleanup strategies for smog and soot, according to a new report by the associations that represent these agencies.

The report by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (STAPPA/ALAPCO) says states and localities could achieve greenhouse gas reductions comparable to those advocated in international treaties.

“This landmark study is a roadmap of how our nation could reduce greenhouse gases while simultaneously cleaning up air pollutants linked to smog and soot,” noted S. William Becker, Executive Director of STAPPA/ALAPCO.

Becker said that while STAPPA/ALAPCO was not necessarily advocating that states and localities attack global warming, the reality is that there is increasing state and local concern over global warming. Those that wish to act on those concerns will find that in doing so, collateral benefits can be achieved in the form of cleaner air. Likewise, for those that may not seek greenhouse gas reductions per se, if they are designing strategies to meet national health standards for smog and soot, they can do so in a way that also cuts greenhouse gases.

“States could take a left, and adopt cleanup strategies without regard to their impact on greenhouse gases,” Becker noted. “Or they could take a right, and find approaches that not only protect public health, but also reduce greenhouse gases. In many cases,” he added, “such a harmonized strategy could actually improve public health protection and, further, reduce energy use, thus yielding welcome cost savings.”

To illustrate how a harmonized strategy could work, the report examines hypothetical case studies conducted for New Hampshire, Atlanta, Louisville and Ventura, California. Each cleanup plan was different because of different local circumstances.

Ken Colburn, New Hampshire’s air director, noted that a plan tailored for his state could reduce carbon dioxide by 12 percent through a combination of strategies, including switching some coal-fired electric generation to natural gas, increasing energy efficiency and reducing motor vehicle pollution.

“This approach not only would reduce greenhouse gases, but would slash sulfur dioxide by 41 percent, nitrogen oxides by 17 percent and particulate soot by 12 percent, as well as the related health impacts. The economies of high-tech states like New Hampshire should also benefit from the technologies developed to achieve these reductions,” Colburn noted.

A hypothetical harmonized strategy achieved even greater greenhouse gas reductions in Louisville, noted Art Williams, Director of the Air Pollution Control District of Jefferson County, Kentucky.

“We found that by switching some coal use to natural gas, boosting energy efficiency and reducing vehicle pollution, we could reduce carbon dioxide by 15 percent, sulfur dioxide by 26 percent and nitrogen oxides by 14 percent,” Williams noted. “it would mean a major improvement in health protection.”

The report’s authors made it clear that none of the jurisdictions in question had committed to following through with the enumerated options.

“All we want to show right now,” said Becker, “is that it is possible to clean up conventional air pollutants and simultaneously deal with the challenge of climate change.”

The entire report, Reducing Greenhouse Gases & Air Pollution: A Menu of Harmonized Options, is available from STAPPA/ALAPCO at (202) 624-7864.

This news release has been reprinted by Environmental and Engineering Solutions, Inc. with permission from STAPPA/ALAPCO.

Update 2004

The EPA has begun to take an active role in cooperation with STAPPA/ALAPCO to reduce Greenhouse Gases. Yearly inventories have been compiled since 1997 and are now available online through 2003 at EPA’s Global Warming – US Emissions Inventory 2003 page. All other information regarding the emissions of Greenhouse Gases including what the EPA is doing to reduce Greenhouse Gas levels is available at their Global Warming – Outreach Material page.

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