Clean Air Month – Offers Air Pollution Solutions
Striving to ensure that Florida’s air quality is among the cleanest in the nation.
TALLAHASSEE – Recognizing that clean air is vital to Florida’s health, environment and economy, Governor Charlie Crist has proclaimed May 2009 as Clean Air Month. To celebrate this designation, the Florida DEP and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) are encouraging Florida’s residents, businesses and visitors to adopt environmentally friendly practices to help protect Florida’s air quality.
"Recognizing May as Clean Air Month reinforces the state’s commitment to meeting and exceeding air quality standards," said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. "By monitoring air quality, promoting pollution prevention, administering pollution controls, and coordinating with local, state and federal clean air programs, we strive to ensure that Florida’s air quality is among the cleanest in the nation."
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average adult breathes more than 3,000 gallons of air every day. Children, who breathe more air per pound of body weight, are even more susceptible to air pollution. Keeping these statistics in mind, there are many steps Floridians can take to prevent air pollution and protect human health, as well as the environment. These steps include:
• Drive less – use public transportation, carpool or ride a bike.
• Use energy efficient products.
• Use reel or electric lawn mowers.
• Compost rather than burning waste materials.
• Use green cleaners.
• Maintain heating and air conditioning units.
• Avoid using oil-based paints, solvents or varnishes which contribute to ground level ozone.
• Plant native trees and shrubs.
• Spread the word.
Another way to help protect air quality is to plan ahead with 511 before hitting the road. FDOT offers a free 511 Travel Information System that provides drivers up-to-the-minute roadway information on all Florida interstate highways and major metropolitan roadways. Utilizing the 511 system helps drivers avoid congested roadways and reduces vehicle emissions by minimizing traffic idling. Callers can also use 511 to connect to public transit agencies. The free resource is available from a landline or cell phone, by dialing 511, or on the Web at www.FL511.com.
In the last decade, Florida has achieved large reductions in emissions of soot, sulfur dioxide and smog-contributing nitrogen oxide through a combination of enforcement, conversion to cleaner fuel and implementation of federal requirements, such as the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule. In December, Florida’s Idle Reduction Rule went into effect, placing an idling limit of five minutes on heavy-duty diesel vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas and other potentially hazardous emissions.
DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management also recently issued permits for pollution controls at three coal fired power plant facilities who have committed to reducing emissions – Gulf Power Crist, Gulf Power Smith and Progress Energy’s Crystal River Units four and five. These permits will lead to significant reductions in fine particle pollution and ground-level ozone.
These actions, plus the Governor’s 2007 Executive Orders and the energy bill (HB7135) passed during the 2008 Legislative Session, have helped propel Florida as a leader in environmental protection. A number of other initiatives have also been set in motion to further that commitment, including a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a renewable fuel standard and renewable portfolio standard that gives added weight to wind and solar energy, plus increased energy efficiency and conservation requirements. In addition to implementing improved building codes to increase the energy performance of newly constructed buildings.
DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management is tasked with protecting, conserving and restoring Florida’s air, with the primary goal of protecting the health of its residents. Air pollution comes from many sources including factories, power plants, dry cleaners and motor vehicles. The division implements the federal Clean Air Act and appropriate statutes to protect Floridians. The division also monitors the state’s air pollution control programs and coordinates Florida’s work with the efforts of other local, state and federal air quality programs. For more information about the division, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/air.
To view the Governor’s Clean Air Month proclamation, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2009/04/files/Clean_Air_09.pdf.
For more information on Florida’s climate change initiatives, visit www.myfloridaclimate.com. For more information about the Florida Department of Transportation, visit www.dot.state.fl.us.