Groups Honor Prince George's Legislators for Healthy Air Leadership

Date:   July 26, 2006

 Joy Oakes, NPCA, 202-329-6815

Groups Honor Prince George's Legislators for Healthy Air Leadership

Unhealthy Summer Smog Underscores Importance of 2006 Legislation

Bowie, Maryland – As residents enjoy welcome relief from last week’s high temperatures and “unhealthy air” advisories, healthy air advocates today recognized five legislators from Prince George’s County for their leadership in the successful effort to advance clean air solutions in this year’s General Assembly.

“Those of us who are concerned about the preservation of Chesapeake Bay and protecting our children and seniors from dirty air owe a debt of thanks to these five legislators,” said former U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings. 

Those recognized today for their efforts included Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller, President of the Maryland Senate; Senator Paul Pinsky and Del. Jim Hubbard, lead bill sponsors; Del. Dereck Davis, House Economic Matters Committee Chairman; and Del. Brian Moe, chief deputy majority whip and member of the Economic Matters Committee.

“These legislators responded to the concerns of community leaders and citizens throughout the state, and acted to protect our communities, our streams and rivers, and our health,” said Erin Fitzsimmons of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Healthy Air Act is the strongest state legislation in the country to limit pollution from power plants.  It requires the dirtiest power plants in Maryland to reduce pollution that is a major cause of smog, soot, the “dead zone” in the Chesapeake Bay, mercury contamination of fish, and pollution in Maryland’s national parks.  In addition, the Act requires Maryland to join a regional global warming agreement that recently was finalized by seven other states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

“By enacting the Maryland Healthy Air Act, the legislature has taken great strides toward improving the health, productivity, and quality of life for all Maryland residents,” said Brenda Afzal of the Maryland Nurses Association.

Since May 1, about seven of every 10 days in Maryland have had poor air quality, including 47 “Code Yellow” days (moderate health concern for especially sensitive individuals), 6 “Code Orange” days (members of sensitive groups, such as people with lung or heart disease, may experience health effects), 2 “Code Red” days (everyone may experience health effects), and 1 “Code Purple” day (everyone may experience more severe health effects).

“The Healthy Air Act will help reduce both nitrogen and mercury pollution going into the Chesapeake Bay,” said Margaret McHale of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  “Also of great significance, this law enables Maryland to take our first steps to fight rising water levels and other results of global warming.”

“When history looks at the career highlights of these public servants, the Healthy Air Act will be one of their most significant achievements,” said Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland. 

Participants in today’s event included:
 The Hon. Joseph Tydings
 Brenda Afzal, Maryland Nurses Association
 Erin Fitzsimmons, Waterkeeper Alliance
 Brad Heavner, Environment Maryland
 Margaret McHale, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
 Josh Tulkin and Claire Douglass, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
 Joy Oakes, National Parks Conservation Association
 Ed Osann, Potomac Resources
 Eric Shaeffer, Environmental Integrity Project
 Rick Spencer, National Wildlife Federation

Coalition members are holding a series of events this summer to thank key legislative leaders in the healthy air campaign. 

The Healthy Air Coalition includes health professionals, park advocates, hunters, anglers, conservationists, the faith community, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, community advocates, good government groups, labor, and environmentalists that together advocate that Maryland’s dirtiest polluters clean up their air pollution for the health of our children, communities, economy and environment.



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