February 12, 2007
Hope for Benzene Reductions
Saturday's O reports that the EPA is going to regulate benzene content of gasoline in the NW (nationwide, actually). Good news! Thank you Ron Wyden.
But can we hold our breath until 2015?
February 12, 2007 9:30 AM
I think the real question is, can we functionally make the change before then. The second question is, can we hold our breath. :o One could write for a newspaper with sound bites like that. :)
But I digress...
It is good that they're cracking down on the lazy. I ponder though, how much will prices in the NW go up? Refinery changes aren't cheap.
But then of course, I don't really care, that is primarily the SOV Commuters worry and not mine as they're the ones who will bite the bullet. We'll both get to breath easier though!
February 12, 2007 9:33 AM
Paul Edgar Says:
First to everyone, I have a dog in the fight. My father died from Benzene Poisoning. He did not get it from the air that he was breathing but the doctors believe that he got from just washing his hands in gasoline, as the owner of multiple service stations. Service Stations use to provide service and my father had many and evolved them into the garage business and he kept washing the grease off with gasoline.
It takes years to where you cannot create mature white blood cells and this is where the toxicity of Benezene in the system starts to overwhelm what shold be happening. The conditions that I am talking about were told to my father and brother and myself by the head of OHSU Hemotology department. They called his condition pre-leukemia and it kills people when their immune system can NO longer fight off illnesses.
Conditions on our roads where we have high levels of congestion and resultant high level of toxic vehicle emissions is NO better then what my father was doing when he washed his hands in gasoline by forcing people to breath these toxic air into their lungs.
The I-5 and I-405 corridors are killing people, it is just going to take time. The I-5 corridor between the Marquam Bridge and the Interstate bridge have been reported to have the 3rd worse air quality conditions in the nation.
To me it is criminal to wait on anything. We know what we have and it is a public health problem. We cannot wait to 2015 to get Benzene down to where it should be. We cannot wait to reduce congestion and emissions in the I-5 corridor.
I am personally tired of BS at Metro and the City of Portland talking about replacing the I-5 Interstate Bridges when they know that this effort will not stop or eliminate the I-5 congestion and these emissions that kill people.
When you throw all of the next 20-years of Federal Funding at one project and not fix virtually anything, folks get your priorities right. The CRC Task Force recommendation are wrong minded and we need more then just putting a finger in the dike, we need solutions.
February 12, 2007 12:20 PM
Solutions from the Government. hahahaahahahaaa hohohohoohhh heheheeheeheee. That's rare. I think the last solution provided by the Government in large scale WAS the interstate. The last good one probably was the polio vaccine push, but I'd gander the private industry had more to do with that being successful than any Government entity. But I digress.
2015 is a real slacker approach. I also agree that something should be done ASAP. But then of course if the REAL market had their way, would peope even HAVE an I-5? Fun stuff to ponder how FUBARed we are because of Government planning.
My bets are set regulations for protection, stop subsidizing the bloody roads, put some tolls up (just to give way some, don't privatize em', let the Government do it and compare the prices). From now on let all auto usage pay for itself truly.
We'd cut the bad stuff in the air, autos would decrease in attractiveness, and they can quit yanking those thousands for transit out of my yearly taxes. I might even dream so much as to wish I'd get those monies back so I can do something productive with them. :o
February 12, 2007 12:35 PM
According to BlueOregon.com:
"The estimated cost of compliance, according to the EPA, is less than one cent per gallon of gasoline."
February 12, 2007 1:34 PM
the thing that is interesting to me is that the reason california has the lowest percentage of benzene in their gas (here's a pdf map: http://tinyurl.com/2qz9gy) is because they have their own stricter standards that supersede the EPA's own standards. so while it's great that wyden has brought attention to this issue, and forced the epa's hand, it is clear that the refineries could do better and act faster (at a higher cost, of course). we ought to pressure the state legislature to push for oregon specific higher standards sooner. does the state have to power to do this if most of the refineries are located in washington? does it matter?
February 12, 2007 5:38 PM
dick BARNARD Says:
Since all [100%] of the gas sold in this area is from the northslope and passes through the refinery at Anacortes [WN], why not require the refiner to extract the benzene as they should???
February 12, 2007 6:57 PM
I believe that Oregon, (like California,) could require that this problem be solved without any action on the part of the Federal EPA. California gets a lot of gasoline from Alaska too, but they've written stricter standards requiring cleaner gasoline, and the refineries make it for them. (Although it does tend to cost them a little more.) But our state hasn't done that...
Why not? I don't know. It may be as simple as the fact that we can't afford to set up the required bureaucracy to do it. However, my personal theory is that the oil companies will fight a PR battle against our state attempting to write stricter standards, claiming that it will "raise the cost of gas." Very few politicians would touch that PR battle, no matter how many lives it saved. (As such, I'm interested to hear the fallout on this Wyden's actions, although so far the "less than 1 cent" numbers and BP's comments seem to be good signs.)
This is part of the reason that I'm not too bothered by the fact that 2015 is a long ways away. If our state couldn't have been bothered to do it in the first place, we aren't really in a position to be telling Wyden's that 2015 isn't good enough...
February 12, 2007 10:33 PM
Paul Edgar Says:
This is about people being killed and many do not know what is happening. Wyden did his political thing at the Fed level and that is all he could do, but it is still not good enough.
The State needs to act, yes but that takes leadership from legislators.
We are the people who know and we need to start telling everyone that emissions kill people.
Remember we have Metro and the City of Portland allowing highly congested conditions to exist on our roads that puts more toxic emissions into the air that kill people. Less emissions, less exposure to high level of benzene in our gas.
There is not ONE PLAN FROM METRO TRANSPORTATION to eliminate known congestion problems in the I-5 corridor between the Marquam and Interstate Bridges on the I-5 corridor through Portland.
They also read the report and know that this area has the 3rd worse air quality in the nation and are doing nothing about it. So it is not Wydens fault when we have NO local leadership too.
February 13, 2007 6:00 AM
And that is exactly my point: Where is that leadership? Why isn't it here? For instance, I've known about that problem for a couple years, somebody was complaining about it on the 4-Fresseden bus back in 2004ish. It isn't like this is some big secret, the public knows about the benzene problem, but...
I mean, one would think that somewhere between the state, metro, the county, the city, and Ockley Green Middle School, (poor kids, they might as well pass out inhalers in class,) one would think that someone would have a plan of sorts, and they don't. In fact, some of these people act like it isn't even a real problem, for instance, if you went to the CRC meetings, the proposed alternative will make traffic on that section of freeway worse than it is now, which obviously will make air pollution worse than it is now, and yet they blew that off like it was a non-issue, far less important than the costs of staffing a drawbridge. How in the world can you write an environmental impact statement, if you are going to ignore the environment part of it?
February 13, 2007 9:06 AM
Paul Edgar Says:
Matthew, Thank You.
Wake up people, when you can die years from now, the medical report will identify that you may have had pneumonia, but the real cause probably will have been emissions related from toxic air and yes, it could be stopped, if we had leadership.
I do not have to get to detail to tell you what happens but when we found out that our father was dying from Benzene Poisoning to when he died, it took about 5-years and about $1M of total medical expense invested into him, in NO avail. When your immune system is taken down one step at a time, it is not pretty. You cannot fight illiness no matter how big or small, it could have just as well been AIDS.
The CRC Task Force recommendations propose inducing more vehicles into the highly congested I-5 corridor. Right now we have 3-lane I-5 Interstate Bridges that effectively meter traffic in the corridor. Pull off the metering and we loose what little balance we have with all of the inter-relating and inter-connecting freeways and arterials in the Metro Region and all problems get worse.
Most everyone agrees we just move the road block just a little further south into Portland proper where it can kill more people. For many, you do not know it now, but you are breathing a lot of bad stuff and it is not just Benzene it is also particulates. Tons and tons of it and it stays in your lungs. With a little sick humor and "You have been wondering why you are gaining some weight", just breath a little more of that good Portland air.
MAX/Light Rail is an important opportunity that has the potential in the long term to reduce the percentage in growth of congestion in the I-5 corridor, but does not make a dent in the real congestion that kills people. With MAX/LRT into Vancouver, we might realize a 2% reduction in vehicles in the I-5 corridor by 2015. That is hard to even come to that level of reduction when we know that the population in Clark County Washington is and has been growing in double digits for over the last 10-years and is expected to continue at that rate of increase.
You shut down I-5 traffic and I-205 goes to hell and you start killing people out in the I-205 corridor with added congestion.
Not kidding anyone they are forcasting backups of 6-miles in lenght, lasting 14-hours per day in the 2030 time frame in the I-5 corridor. With that many cars and trucks, barely moving, idling their engines and putting their emissions into the air, is that what we want?
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) methods which place fees or tolls in the corridor can have an effect but they are very regressive and hurt the working poor. TDM methods are to many a last choice solutions.
We need new thinking, bold leadership that acknowledges that we have more then a congestion problem, WE HAVE A PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM!
Real Solutions cannot weight. If we allow these special interests and CRC recommendations to take all of the Federal money for the next 20-years and put it into a CRC Project that does not reduce and/or eliminate the problems that we have in the I-5 corridor, we just as well put a gun to our heads and pull the trigger.