press release April 30
(12/P52) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today marked the beginning of Air Quality Awareness Week, from April 30-May 5, by stressing the importance of a combined effort by government and the public to improve air quality in our state.
"This is a priority issue for the Christie Administration which has moved forward on major initiatives to battle air pollution in our state and coming from neighboring states, while championing policies that promote the widespread development of renewable and clean energy -- green, solar, wind energy -- and greater use of cleaner natural gas,'' said Commissioner Martin.
"But we also need individuals to join the battle, to be mindful of how basic changes in their everyday routines can greatly improve air quality for everyone across our state, and improve public health and welfare in New Jersey,'' added Commissioner Martin. "
Reducing air pollution can be achieved by everyone through simple and smart choices. Steps such as maintaining your car, using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and reducing automobile trips can lessen the impact on the environment.
In declaring Air Quality Awareness Week, Governor Christie noted that public awareness is an important part in reducing air pollution.
Some tips on reducing air pollutants include:
• Keep your vehicle maintenance up-to-date.
• Obey state law by not idling your vehicle for more than three minutes and encourage your local government to enforce the law, as well as implement diesel reduction measures.
• Turn off lights when you leave a room. Turn off the air conditioner when you leave the house. It not only reduces pollution, but saves you money.
• Buy clothing that doesn't require dry cleaning.
• Avoid cleaners, paints or pesticides that are reliant on volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted as gases that can persist in the air long after they are applied.
• Check your local forecast using the Air Quality Index (AQI) athttp://www.njaqinow.net. If it is an orange or red day, avoid using products with VOCs or mowing your lawn.
• Burn only dry, well-seasoned hardwood, and avoid wood burning on bad air days.
For more tips and information, visit http://www.stopthesoot.org
Governor Christie has continuously strived to improve the air in New Jersey for the health and welfare of residents statewide. Part of that battle has targeted major out-of-state polluters.
The Christie Administration won a major victory this year with the EPA's precedent-setting approval of New Jersey's Clean Air Act petition that calls for substantial reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions that pour into North Jersey's air from coal-fired units at a Portland, Pa. power plant. GenOn Energy must cut emissions 60 percent by Jan. 1 and 81 percent in three years. The company has announced it would shut down those coal-fired units by 2015.
The DEP also has taken the lead in lawsuits against owners of the Homer City Station plant and against Allegheny Energy Inc., to force installation of pollution-control equipment to cut massive emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pouring from those western Pennsylvania plants.
Other achievements under Governor Christie include:
• Adopting a policy of not allowing new coal-fired power plants to be built in New Jersey, ensuring that additional generation comes from clean energy sources.
• Mandating 2015 closure or latest technology upgrades to polluting "peaker units'' employed during High Energy Demand Days in summer.
• Approving a pilot program to reduce diesel emissions from big construction vehicles at state construction sites.
• Completing retrofits or replacement of diesel engines on 800 NJ Transit commuter buses.
• Setting a new, lower standard for sulfur content for home heating oil.
• Aggressively moving ahead with a grant program to finance replacement of dry cleaning machines that pour thousands of pounds of pollutants into the air.
• Making a commitment to renewable energy, including making New Jersey first in the nation for installed solar capacity.
• Accelerating development of offshore wind projects to speed creation of wind turbines that will generate cleaner energy.
• Negotiating a settlement last week that calls for the Hess Corporation to make $45 million in pollution control upgrades at its Port Reading oil refinery near Woodbridge.
Commissioner Martin encouraged residents, especially those with health problems, to follow the DEP's Air Monitoring Alert System. This system uses color codes to help residents plan their daily activities around current air quality conditions. Conditions are updated daily on the DEP's Web site, http://www.nj.gov/dep/.
This year, Air Quality Awareness Week coincides with some of the highest pollen counts on record for the past 25 years.
"Pollen is an important trigger for both allergic reactions and asthma attacks," said NJDEP Clean Air Council member and past Chair Dr. Leonard Bielory. "The longer exposures to pollen, especially when combined with pollutants, intensifies the severity of allergic reactions and asthmatic responses affecting children and adults."
Residents may subscribe to EnviroFlash at www.enviroflash.info, an online alert system that delivers critical air quality information right to your e-mail in-box. You also can follow air quality forecasts on Twitter and through RSS feeds through the federal Environmental Protection Agency's EnviroFlash system. Visit www.enviroflash.info.