Community Engagement Committee - Fairfax County, VA
Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak presented testimony in support of keeping the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion at the EPA Ozone hearing held January 29th

 

2015-01-29 004
 

Environmental Protection Agency Public Hearing
Proposed Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
EPA Docket Number: EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0699
Washington D.C, January 29, 2015
Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, Virginia

Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me to speak today regarding EPA’s proposal to lower the ozone standard. My name is Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. I have over 30-years work experience in manufacturing, information technology, human resources, program management, and quality management. I’ve held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff – Information Services with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; have held various executive level positions at the U.S. Postal Service and in the private sector, and am currently faculty at the University of Phoenix. I am also a wife, a grandmother, a daughter, a small business owner, and a strong advocate for the Hispanic community within Northern Virginia. It’s this combined experience that brings me here to testify about ozone standards.

I am very sensitive to public health concerns with a father that suffers from pulmonary disease. I moved him from the Bronx to Northern Virginia both to provide a healthier environment and to be closer to me so that I could care for him. Having grown up in New York City myself, I understand the impact of air quality on health, but also realize that there are other factors that contribute to pulmonary respiratory problems. This does not diminish the concerns of other families that are experiencing problems similar to my father’s, because I witness the fear of losing the breath of life daily and it is not easy.
However, through my years of experience working in the public and private sector domestically and internationally, I also believe that we must have a balanced approach when setting public policy, because the effects of these policy decisions are widespread and lasting.

I am here today, as a Virginian and a member of the Hispanic community, to ask that the EPA take other perspectives into account before lowering the current ozone standard from 75 parts per billion. I believe the current 75 parts per billion standard is working and should not be changed.
It is important that Americans be able to live in areas where they are able to breathe clean air, and the EPA set a standard of 75 parts per billion in 2008 that is providing just that. I live in Northern Virginia which is meeting this standard – even though marginally – and I look at my father who moved from the Bronx where ozone levels are much higher, than this area, and it has helped him. Granted, there are many other factors that impact his respiratory problems, but cleaner air has made a positive impact. Articles that I have read have also concurred that this current standard is protective of public health. i,ii

So, I question why it needs to be lowered, and am concerned about the impact, if it is lowered.

Former Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling recently published an OpEd that described the potential impact of lowering the ozone standard in Virginia. He cites a recent study from NERA Economic Consulting that estimates, and I quote “new ozone regulations could cost Virginia billions of dollars in gross state product between 2017 and 2040, and cause the loss of tens of thousands of jobs a year.”

That’s TENS of THOUSANDS of jobs at a time when Virginia is just beginning to see the economic losses directly attributable to Sequestration.

This past Tuesday, Norfolk Southern announced it was closing its Roanoke office with an expected job loss of 500 for that area. These jobs used to support coal industry jobs until EPA regulations kicked into full effect.
And in Northern Virginia, we are still struggling to recover from a national recession and federal budget cuts. Thus, a federal policy that could cause further economic harm such as this lower ozone standard would only add insult to injury to the Northern Virginia economy.

I have read the views that the Hispanic community is disproportionately impacted by ozone since many live in urban settings. However, I believe that the Hispanic community is at disproportionately greater risk if the ozone level were lowered because they work in the industries that could be impacted the most: agriculture, manufacturing, oil and natural gas development, construction, etc. as well as the small businesses along the supply chain. They could suffer from increased costs and job losses (and with job losses, the elimination of healthcare coverage).

I ask you today, to please keep the current ozone standard and not further reduce it. The unintended repercussions are far-reaching to families in Virginia, to the Hispanic community and to Americans across the nation.

Thank you again for the privilege of presenting my testimony.
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i) TCEQ Opposes New EPA Ozone Standards Proposal. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. November 26, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.tceq.texas.gov/news/releases/11-26opposeozone
ii) Howard Feldman’s remarks at press conference call ahead of proposed Ozone NAAQS regulations. API. November 25, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.api.org/news-and-media/testimony-speeches/2014/howard-feldman-remarks-press-conference-call-ahead-of-proposed-ozone-naaqs-regulations

Posted on February 8th, 2015


 
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