Tuesday: Breathe with care in Delaware …..(etc)

Bad Air

Tuesday August 5, 2014 is an official Code Orange “air quality action day” in Delaware.  The DNREC says: “A Code Orange air quality forecast for ozone is a level of pollution that can be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as young children, the elderly, and those with heart and/or respiratory conditions. Such persons should limit outdoor activities, especially those that require a high level of exertion.”

But the actual picture is worse because the pollution forecast is for Code Orange for ozone and Code Yellow for particles (PM 2.5).  Since these two types of pollutant have cumulative impacts, the real hazard status should be CODE RED.

Near-real-time maps and other information are available at the EPA’s airnow site.  It is good to check this because the actual pollutant measurements can be higher or lower than forecast.

In addition, temperature, humidity, and allergens (pollen, molds, etc.) can add to the health stress of bad air.  As I write this, the heat index (combined impact of temperature and humidity) is 87 deg.  This is not a humid day for summer in Delaware.  [Note:  An earlier version of this post reported a much higher heat index.  This was based on inaccurate weather data.]

Delaware does not report allergens every day.  The most recent report, for August 3, 2014, reports a high (Red) mold count of 16,167.

Pollen.com provides pollen forecasts.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday are forecast to be in the Orange (“medium high”) range in Delaware.

The forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday, is officially Code Yellow.  Since both ozone and particulates are forecast to be Code Yellow, this should really be considered a Code Orange forecast.

Some of the air pollutants causing dirty air in Delaware come from far away and would be difficult for Delaware to fix.  For example, the smoke from forest fires in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  But there are many actions Delaware could take to reduce air pollution and improve public health.  For example, at least 13 states, included Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, have adopted California’s stricter vehicle emission standards and Delaware could and should do this also.  The insane reopening of the Delaware City Refinery by Governor Jack Markell needs to be reversed ASAP.

Meanwhile, though, breathe with care.

Another Dave Smallness

Another entry in our “what’s the grossest lie Dave Small [recently appointed DNREC Secretary] ever told, this one is from a long-time Delaware lawyer.  It’s not exactly a lie report, but is definitely all Dave Small:

“David Small story:

When a friend of mine was the DOJ [Department of Justice] lawyer assigned to DNREC to handle enforcement decades past, she tried at times to write better regulations for the Department.  They would pass up the line for review to Small where they would stop–never to be seen again.”

Their corporate media at work:  Delmarva Power “merger”

The announced merger of PEPCO Holdings (including Delmarva Power) and Exelon Corp., is not in the public interest.  Such mergers strengthen utility monopolies, raise rates, and reduce any possibility of effective regulation.  Consider that when Delmarva Power “merged” with PEPCO, (Potomac Electric, headquartered in Maryland) the ability of the already-feeble Delaware Public Service Commission to regulate Delmarva Power dropped.  Rates have zoomed.   Exelon (formerly Commonwealth Edison) is headquartered in Chicago.

So we have enormously rich corporations (Exelon reported “operating revenues” of 25 billion in 2013) wanting something harmful to the public interest.  That means huge amounts of money and other favors will be handed out to the politicians, regulators, and organizations that should be saying “NO!”  Example:

Exelon openly offered a 17 million dollar bribe to the Delaware Public Service Commission.  How did the Wilmington “Stooge” Journal report this?  Under this headline “Exelon: Pepco merger to benefit ratepayers.”  The story included “If the Delaware Public Service Commission approves a merger involving Delmarva Power’s parent company, ratepayers will receive $17 million….”

As for the bribes to NGOs, Marketwatch (Wall Street Journal)reported on June 18th: “Exelon has committed to provide $50 million over 10 years to charitable organizations and programs in the communities the PHI utilities serve­–exceeding PHI’s 2013 funding levels.”

A previous, May 1st Stooge story was headlined “Delmarva parent Pepco Holdings to merge with Exelon.” Only near the end of the story was it noted that “The deal is contingent upon approval by government agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and public utility commissions in the individual states, including Delaware’s Public Service Commission.”

What more can we say?  A lot, actually, if you want to hear it.  Stand by.

Alan Muller

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