It was only a bit more than a year ago that Rome and surrounding area finally “conformed” to the federal clean air standards for fine-particulate matter (basically soot) and got the all-clear that lifted potential threats to building more highways, adding “smoke stack” industries (like food processing) and similar. Indeed, for a while there was talk of having to extend the tailpipe emission inspection standards of the Atlanta metro into this region.
Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued new, stricter standards that are supposed to be met by 2020 and Rome is suspected of being one of four parts of the state likely to “fail” because apparently being better is no longer good enough.
Much of this “soot” that nobody can really much tell is there, but is supposed to add to health-care costs, comes from coal-fired power plants like Hammond and nearby Bowen. Actually, a good bit blows in from notoriously dirty Alabama plants but that doesn’t seem to count in our favor. On the other hand, there is a chance — beyond the massive investments such as Georgia Power has already made in cleanup add-ons — that the Rome region might slip by once more as more hybrid/electric autos hit the road with less to nothing coming out of their tailpipes.
Ignoring the obvious fact that the air seems pretty good around here, let’s accept the notion that soot adds to heart and lung problems and less of it will save billions in medical expenses. So, why not a greater Big Nanny effort to save us all from big medical bills by banning such better-known health dangers as those from tobacco, alcohol, cars and bullets — not to mention paying to expedite the cleanup of the PCBs known to be in the area?
Come to think of it, if the federal government wants to worry this much about our lungs can’t it do something about this region’s notoriously high pollen levels?