Lisa Jackson, the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has been so focused on saving the world from America's greenhouse gases that she seems to have forgetten about serious pollution in the Phoenix area.
Yet while questions still swirl about the consequences and causes of global warming, there's no doubt about what's going on in the Valley: The air sucks.
Last week, state activists filed a lawsuit against Jackson and the EPA, claiming she's failed to act on a state plan to reduce particulate pollution by 5 percent. The state submitted the plan, but the EPA blew off the June 30 deadline to approve or disapprove it, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs, including Sandy Bahr of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, demand that Jackson begin the process of approving or disapproving the plan immediately, and to make a final decision within three months, according to a copy of the lawsuit published by Courthouse News Service.
Dust, microscopic bits of brake pads and tires, soot from diesel engines and other sources of particulate pollution may be responsible for the premature deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of people each year in the Phoenix metro area, scientists say.
Excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be the biggest long-term problems the human race has ever faced.
But that doesn't mean we should ignore the short-term problems.