AIR QUALITY POSITION PAPER
South Dakota Resources Coalition supports the right of all citizens of the State of South Dakota to clean air. Exposure to unclean air is a danger to health and longevity, a danger that is especially acute to the very young, the very old, and those of all ages whose health has been previously impaired by exposure to pollutants in the environment, the home, the workplace and the military. Unclean air is also as threat to plants and animals, both domestic and wild. Unclean air threatens human occupational pursuits such as agriculture and tourism and human possessions such as buildings and automobiles. Unclean air threatens water supplies through acidification and leaching of toxic metals. Finally, unclean air degrades the aesthetic quality of life through odors and loss of the scenic views that previous generations of Americans were able to enjoy. SDRC does not believe that protection of clean air needs to endanger the right of citizens to make a living.
SDRC recognizes that the following types of human activities threaten the well-being of citizens and should be restricted.
Fossil Fuels and Greenhouse Gases
Burning of fossil fuels such as coal for electricity generation and oil to power vehicles inevitably increases the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere. No pollution control can prevent this effect. The increased levels of carbon dioxide, together with other greenhouse gases, are increasing the world air temperatures. Increased temperatures will severely intensify drought problems on the Great Plains. Rising temperatures will also melt the polar icecaps causing sea levels to rise and flood large parts of densely inhabited shoreline areas. If fossil fuel usage is not drastically cut back, much money will be needed to increase irrigation and build dikes and seawalls.
SDRC supports immediate public and private energy measures to reduce burning of all fossil fuels. These measures include:
- Developing energy-efficient buildings, vehicles, light bulbs and appliances
- Decreasing vehicle usage through promotion of public transportation together with wise planning to reduce urban sprawl.
- Recycling of metals, glass, plastics, wood, and paper.
- Use of alternative sources of energy including production of ethanol as vehicle fuel, solar and wind power and generation of methane from materials presently incinerated or buried in landfills.
- Requiring adequate pollution controls on power plants and vehicles to help make alternative sources economically competitive.
- Promotion and funding of research into energy conservation and alternative energy sources.
- Development of incentives and regulations at all levels of government—local, state, national, and international—to promote the above objectives.
Fossil Fuels, Ozone, and Acid Rain
The same usage of fossil fuels is generating severe problems with ozone levels and with acid rain caused by sulfates and nitrogen oxides. This air pollution is damaging plant and animal life in parts of the world, including the Black Hills. These pollutants, together with others caused by industrial processes, are also seriously degrading visibility many National Parks, including Wind Cave. This problem is international in scope and needs to be addressed by private citizens and all levels of government.
Emission of Toxic Pollutants
Thousands of tons of chemicals are being generated and released into the air from manufacturing processes without any regulation of the quantity that can be emitted and without adequate testing to show that they ado not endanger health. At least 214 presently unregulated chemicals are believed to present serious health threats to citizens because of their toxicity and widespread use. Scrubbers and other air pollution control devices are available, but they are not being used. SDRC supports regulation and enforcement of the use of pollution control technology by all levels of government to eliminate exposure of citizens to toxic substances. SDRC also encourages public and private efforts to decrease usage of disposable items, whose manufacture, transportation and ultimate disposal results in emission of toxic pollutants.
4. By the early 1990’s, available landfill sites will have disappeared for most larger municipalities in the country and pollutants generated from incineration are likely to increase greatly. Incineration of plastics, bleached paper products and many other items containing chlorides, such as common table salt, causes the production of dioxins, which include some of the most toxic substances known. SDRC supports recycling of all products, wood, paper, plastics, metal and glass to eliminate the pollution threats caused by both their manufacture and disposal. SDRC also supports strict emissions regulations for incineration of substances that are currently not recyclable.
5. Many rural and urban practices involve uses of chemicals that have never been adequately tested for safety. These chemicals are extensively promoted and used despite evidence that many are pollutants when warm temperatures cause their outgassing into the air and when windborne soil erosion carries them with the soil particles. SDRC encourages immediate private efforts and government incentives and regulations to eliminate usage of all herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. SDRC also recognizes that soil erosion of itself is a serious air pollutant and encourages mandatory prevention of soil erosion.
SDRC recognizes that the above measures will be taken only if citizens are educated to understand the gravity and global nature of the present air pollution problem, both in South Dakota and throughout the world. SDRC supports efforts to educate the public as to the threats to physical health and economic and aesthetic values caused by toleration of present levels of pollution.
SDRC recognizes that the above listing of major sources is incomplete and supports the need for elimination of pollutants from any and all sources, including those not addressed above.
Finally, SDRC recognizes the need to monitor the air, develop, and enforce severe penalties for violators who pollute the air.
This position paper was adopted by SDRC’s Board of Directors at their meeting on November 19, 1988.