Provost pitches bills on health impacts of pollution

From the State House News Service…
Somerville Rep Pitches Two Bills to Address Health Impacts of Air Pollution
By Priscilla Yeon
A legislator concerned with the harm caused by pollution near high-traffic roadways plans to file two bills she hopes will reduce pollution-related pulmonary and cardiac diseases.
Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville) said it’s time for the Legislature to address the health concerns of people who live near roadways and buildings sitting near high-traffic areas.

Provost said she has been concerned for a while with people’s exposure to pollution, especially with fine particulate air pollution, which may lead to respiratory complications, she said.
“People living within 100 meters of these areas have extraordinarily more pulmonary and cardiac disease,” Provost said during an event held to attract co-sponsors to bills that legislators plan to file for consideration during the 2007-2008 legislative session.
Showing a Metropolitan Area Planning Council map, which points out the state’s heaviest traffic areas, Provost said her first bill would give the Department of Public Health a grant to examine the “hot spots” of human exposure to pollution and to see if there is a correlation between nearby disease rates and the pollution levels of the region.
The second bill would ban the siting of certain buildings in highly-polluted areas so “vulnerable” tenants like patients in hospitals and residents of nursing homes are not highly exposed to particulates.
“This bill would follow the lead in California to regulate buildings within 100 meters of traffic ways,” said Provost.
Other bills featured at the bill-signing event included measures that Rep. Frank Smizik (D-Brookline), co-chairman of the Committee on Environmental, Natural Resources and Agriculture, plan to file this year.
Smizik hopes to see Massachusetts join a regional effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Smizik said he is optimistic the measure will pass since Gov. Deval Patrick has been a supporter of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Former Gov. Mitt Romney opted not to join RGGI, citing its potential to further increase consumer energy prices.
“Patrick certainly wants it and I think he’ll be talking with the leadership about it,” Smizik said.
RGGI starts in 2009 when power plants in the region are required to cap CO2 emissions through 2014 and then reduce such emissions region-wide by 10 percent by 2018. The program will be based on a “cap-and-trade” system, which will require power plants to acquire permits for CO2 emission through an auctioning process.
Smizik said the bill would direct funds from emission permits to renewable and alternative sources of energy.
Another bill Smizik plans to file with co-chairwoman Sen. Pam Resor (D-Acton) is a proposal that the Legislature did not advance in past sessions to promote a voluntary manufacturer’s electronic waste recycling program.
Smizik said the bill seeks to relieve cities and towns from the costs of managing growing piles of e-waste.
Another Resor proposal would remove the sales tax exemption from pesticides and fertilizers to encourage people to look for “healthy” alternatives. The bill would re-direct the revenue to programs supported by the Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which manages problems regarding groundwater protection regulations.
According to an information pamphlet provided by Resor’s office, the state made pesticides and fertilizers tax-exempt from the sales tax “decades ago” when people were unaware of their “serious impacts on human health and the environment.” Taxing pesticides and fertilizers could yield about $1.1 million in revenue, the office said.
Another proposal that drew interest at the event would require recycling bins next to beverage vending machines to encourage recycling initiatives of cans and bottles.