Statement Of Frances E. Harkins
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
April 23, 2003
My name is Frances Harkins and I am a citizen. I just want to speak to a couple of different issues. First of all, I want to say how reprehensible it is for the EPA to categorize the elderly as less than a whole human being and to have less value. I am in my 50's, not in my 70's; I am not a child; I am not one those people who are supposed to be most susceptible to air pollution, but nevertheless in my fifties after just a few years of returning to Pennsylvania from New England, I felt immediately it was such an assault on my lungs. I could not put my elderly mother in her wheelchair on her front porch during many days of the summer. I live just a few miles from Rep. Levdansky's district in Mon Valley and an area that is classic in terms of its inversions and has a lot of ozone and a lot of particulates that continue on today. In the last few years, my health is impacted. So that I need this (held up a device) when I am in this area to continue to breathe. So what did I do and I am one of the lucky ones, I decided to get another home in another state where I could breathe. So I am still here six months and six months. I am the classic face of leaving this area simply because that is how I can continue to breathe. Now I am doing it half and half, but it speaks directly to organization that we have such as the EPA, DEP, the local Allegheny County air pollution people, Allegheny Health Department who have not been successful in limiting the pollution that is coming from upwind states and that is coming from other parts of Pennsylvania. It is not just my sense of it. I want to quote part of a March 24, 2003 letter I got from the Bureau of Air Quality and the Department of Environmental Protection in this State which refers to New Source Review rules that have recently been ditched by the EPA as of March 3, 2003. They were the enforcement part of the Clean Air Act. Now it is my understanding that they are no more. "The Department's assessment of these rule changes indicates a strong likelihood that emissions from sources in upwind states will increase significantly. These increased emissions will adversely affect all citizens of the Commonwealth and will compromise the Commonwealth's ability to achieve and maintain the ozone and fine particular standards." So regardless of how bad it is in the Mon Valley, it is going to get worse because the EPA is trying in every way it can, under Bush, to weaken every kind of standard that we have that has in any way been effective. I thank you for allowing me to speak. I used to think of the EPA as a defensive mechanism something out there that might help me but since Bush came in, I certainly don't, and neither do apparently these words from the Department of Environmental Protection of the State of Pennsylvania.