Measuring Contaminants in Air

Last summer two friends of ours, a married couple who live in Delaware City, described waking up often in the early morning hours before sunrise with a burning sensation in their lungs.  It turns out that other Delaware City residents were also experiencing the same type of sinus and bronchial discomfort.  These residents suspect that Delaware City Refinery, which had just begun refining Tar Sands bitumen, was off-gassing during these early morning hours.  Independent air quality monitoring is costly, and it seems the refinery management has a deal with Delaware Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Concerned Delaware City residents got a chance to voice their concerns about the refinery’s air and water violations at a town hall meeting, but the meeting was rigged to be a battle between scared and angry refinery workers and frustrated community members.  Although the refinery and community reached no agreement, the meeting got some press coverage, and the refinery no longer off-gasses illegally in the early morning hours.

Some in the House are pushing H.R. 3826, the Energy Security and Affordability Act, which would place oversight of EPA rulemaking in the hands of Congress and repeal new greenhouse gas emission standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants.  According to Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of, “The Energy Security and Affordability Act re-emphasizes to EPA that they answer to Congress and the American people, not their own radical anti-coal agenda.”  When I see the wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays, I see an alternative means of energy generation that is better than coal.  And I’m also tired of authoritarian politicos whining on that the EPA is an unnecessary regulatory body.  When Delaware City residents voiced their concerns to the Delaware Department of Environment, they saw no action.  However, when these residents took their fight to the EPA, they got a town hall meeting.


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