This area's pollution is bad, needs area attack, report says

January 29, 1992|By Timothy B. Wheeler

The Baltimore area suffers from serious air and water pollution problems that need to be addressed on a regional basis, a group of 18 environmental, business and government leaders say in a new report.

Issued yesterday by the Johns Hopkins University, the report calls for creation of a "regional environmental forum" to try to overcome the divisions that have stymied progress in restoring the area's air and water quality.

It recommends adoption of growth-management policies that would encourage the city's redevelopment and curb suburban sprawl. Undirected development is a major source of air and water pollution, the report says.

The report also urges the General Assembly to attack the Baltimore region's "serious" air quality problems by adopting California's strict tailpipe pollution standards for all cars and trucks sold in Maryland.

Entitled "From Diversity to Unity," the report itself is the product of consensus among interests often at odds over environmental problems.

Brought together by Hopkins' Institute for Policy Studies for the past 22 months, the group of environmentalists, government planners, business executives and academics hopes its report will serve as a springboard for regional action.

"What's important about this report is not only what we are saying, but the combination of people who are saying it," said George W. Fisher, a co-chairman of the "environmental working group," as it calls itself. The group's work was underwritten by a $150,000 Abell Foundation grant.

The report focuses on smog and runoff as the region's two most significant environmental problems. Baltimore's ground-level ozone pollution, which can inflame lungs and cause wheezing and shortness of breath among ill and even healthy, exercising people, is the fourth worst of any metropolitan area in the country, the report says.

Stormwater runoff from farm fields, city and suburban streets and lawns is fouling the region's streams, drinking-water reservoirs and the Chesapeake Bay, the study notes.

The source of the region's air and water woes is not so much smokestacks and sewage plants as it is people and their driving and living habits, the report says.

vTC

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