Local News

The Reality of Ozone Recommendations

Posted June 25, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— The state government has issued a long list of Code Red recommendations on ways the public can cut down on ozone pollution.

Some of the suggestions include limiting driving and waiting until the evening to cut grass, but the state government does not necessarily practice what it preaches.

State D.O.T. worker Frank Hall does what he's told. He mows grass along the beltline during the hottest part of the day. However, that is not what the state tells everyone else. The Division of Air Quality recommends the public limit harmful emissions by mowing after six in the evening.

"I don't want to mow after six. I want to be home by then with my family," Hall said. "Be in the air conditioning."

Under the sweltering sun, state contractors from C.C. Mangum work on an I-40 project. They crank up the heavy equipment as necessary, and when it runs out of fuel, they fill it up. On a Code Red day, the state asks the motoring public to fill up their gas tanks in the cooler parts of the day.

"If we waited and curtailed all the operations out here, we'd be out here a year from now trying to get this one lane added here," state contractor Larry Whitehurst said.

"We recognize that our employees are out there in the heat working in a very laborious capacity," D.O.T. spokesman Duane MacEntee said.

MacEntee says he knows of no policy to limit ozone pollution in his department. In this kind of heat, worker safety is the top priority, and getting the job done.

"I would certainly say there's a job to be done," MacEntee said. "We have an expectation that the public places on us to do the job. And we need to answer that expectation."

State government does find itself in a precarious position on this situation. If they follow their own ozone recommendations they could end up delaying construction projects and facing the wrath of taxpayers. And The state wants as many people as possible to curtail their ozone emissions, but they prove not everyone can grind to a halt to comply.