Air pollutants took two major blows on both sides of the globe this week. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Obama (and the Environmental Protection Agency) to regulate the soot—referred to as smog or ozone by decision-makers—that drifts through the Midwest, across the Appalachians, and settles into ozone layers on the East Coast.
Dubbed the "war on coal" by Republicans, the six-to-two decision marks a sweeping victory for the Obama administration and America's environmental agenda. Tuesday's decision will allow future administrations to cite this "good neighbor" rule if and when they push to lower the disturbingly high pollution levels reported today by the American Lung Association (ALA).
According to the ALA's new site, State of the Air, half of all Americans breathe highly polluted air. With an information-for-all approach, the site offers air pollution grades searchable by zip code or state, and the outlook is hazy.
Ozone layers in most, if not all, major metropolitan areas—Chicago, Dallas, DC, Los Angeles, New York—got an F. The cleanest cities debuted in dark comedies or surf films (Fargo and Honolulu), but that doesn't say much for the state of the ozone on the other side of the globe.
Street vendors in Beijing closed their carts today after officials banned outdoor grilling, tacking on a fine of up to 20,000 yuan (more than $3,000) in an effort to "blame pollution on everything except cars or coal," as Shanghaiist put it. In 2013, Beijing destroyed 500 of its open-air barbecues, only to have its vain attempt at environmentalism realistically called "meaningless" by the Beijinger.
Stateside, a Supreme Court ruling overturned a—let’s call this one "negligible" in terms of ozone impact—ban on smoking in New York state parks.