Legislation Aims to Clear Air

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — At a press conference at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center on Tuesday, state Sen. Seth Goodall, a Sagadahoc County Democrat, announced that he is introducing legislation to mandate a reduction in the sulfur content of home and industrial heating oil.

Reducing the sulfur content is designed to improve air quality in Acadia National Park and other areas and reduce regional haze; and to benefit the health of residents and visitors and ensure a more viable economy for businesses serving visitors.


On some days in summer, the park issues advisories warning that air quality could reach unhealthful levels and recommends that visitors and residents, particularly the young, elderly and those with respiratory problems, limit prolonged outdoor activity. While most people associate those warnings with ground-level ozone, the warnings also address pollution from particle or particulate matter.

In addition to sulfur from heating oil, other sources of particle pollution include wood smoke, dust, dirt, soot and particles of pollution smaller than the width of a hair. Very small particles are of particular concern since they can be deposited deep in lungs. Major sources of particulate matter are factories, power plants, trash incinerators, motor vehicles, construction activity, smoke and dust. Although recent legislation for tailpipe emissions has reduced levels of particulate matter from motor vehicles, particulate matter still reaches unhealthful levels for sensitive people on several days each year, and the season extends beyond the summer months.

Sen. Goodall, chairman of the state Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee, in his remarks stressed that the legislation will be phased in between 2014 and 2018 in order to allow the marketplace to catch up with the proposed legislation. “This legislation gives distributors and producers advanced notice of the pending lower sulfur requirements, and a statewide sulfur limit will provide a level playing field for all Maine fuel-burning sources, not just those likely to affect a Class 1 area,” said Sen. Goodall said.

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