Urban Air Pollution. Essay

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Urban Air Pollution

The transportation sector is responsible for a large majority of air pollutants in our urban areas, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which form ground-level ozone. Tens of millions of Americans live in areas not meeting at least one federal air quality standard. In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments to combat high emission levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and the creation of ground-level ozone by petroleum-based transportation fuels. This Act specifically required the production and distribution of cleaner-burning gasoline, containing oxygenates such as ethanol, in America's most polluted cities. Tougher emissions standards are also
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They also require large-scale, costly clean-up operations. Even more alarming, however, is that marine oil spills such as the Valdez spill are not nearly as damaging to the environment as the thousands of smaller spills that are reported annually. Pipeline spills reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation average 12 million gallons of petroleum products per year. The Exxon Valdez Spill, by comparison, spewed out 11 million gallons. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, an average of 16,000 small oil spills seep into waterways each year and estimates that in recent years more than 46 million gallons have spilled per year.

Another source of water pollution from gasoline is groundwater pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than a quarter of the nation's one million underground gasoline and oil tanks leak, causing considerable groundwater contamination. Besides direct oil spills and leakage, secondary water pollution from petroleum is also a problem. Oil and gas leakage from cars and trucks is collected on pavement and is carried to streams and lakes whenever the pavement is wet and water drains across it, causing environmental damage to aquatic plant and animal life.

Ethanol can replace the most toxic parts of gasoline with a

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