Although they've never met a highway they didn't like, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission today issued a report that, in essence, concedes we're breathless. Despite tougher federal controls on power plants and stricter vehicle emissions standards, our ozone levels remain too high.
In its summary, the LVPC predicts that, in the years ahead, lower levels will be achieved. They point to sophisticated computer models for their guess, but I think they used a ouija board. They claim that, although we've sprawled into virtually every cornfield, somehow we'll be driving less, more slowly, and using alternative fuels. Huh? They even hint we'll have passenger rail. Well, if this is so, why do they advocate widening Rte. 22? And why the hell did we raise speed limits to 65 mph on Rte. 33?
Both Northampton and Lehigh Counties rate "Fs" from the American Lung Association's 2006 "State of the Air" Report. Why? We drive too much. Most of us have abandoned Easton, Bethlehem, and Allentown for McMansions in the 'burbs. Now we drive farther and faster to our jobs, schools, and Starbucks.
These high ozone levels are a serious health risk to Lehigh Valley residents with asthma (52,000), chronic bronchitis (20,000), or emphysema. Ozone is a respiratory irritant - nothing to sneeze at.