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Green Jobs in Air Resource Management

Ever heard the phrase “as important as the air you breathe?” Keeping the air clean — and thus breathable — is the primary goal of air resource management, an important field for green job-seekers to explore. Here, an eco-conscious career transition can take you into a world of opportunities that go a long way toward creating a sustainable environment.

Poor air quality impacts us all. Our health, crops, animals, buildings, and environment all suffer when the air is difficult or dangerous to breathe. The goal of this industry is to monitor air quality through air measurements or to project air quality by using computer models. Based on the results, specialists determine the best ways to control and mitigate the offending sources of pollution through technological advances or prevention. If emitters are violating laws, regulators may require that the company add control devices, pay penalties, contribute to air pollution research projects, or, if worse comes to worse, go to jail.

The move to address air pollution that began in the 1950s and continues to today has made a difference in our air quality. Certainly the most influential legislation was the Clean Air Act of 1970 that allowed states and the federal government to limit emissions from industrial locations and vehicles.

Under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assesses and monitors air quality both by measuring the concentration of specific sources of pollution, and by tracking the overall amount of pollution in the air.

Future trends in air resource management

Although the air quality industry has made great strides over the last few decades, this is no time to rest on their laurels. In fact, air quality experts worldwide must take a very active role in assessing pollutants in the air and combating global warming. Given the projected demographics, economics, and climate of the future, we must find ways to reduce the release of pollutants into the air.

Generally speaking, air quality specialists look for voluntary or mandatory strategies that control a particular pollutant or a specific pollution source. For example, energy efficiency programs, mass transit commute options, renewable energy sources, and cap and trade are all viable strategies that can be implemented to help minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA), emissions from manufacturing sources and vehicles have been reduced through technological advances. The air pollution control technologies industry is going to play a critical role in the coming years. From emissions monitoring systems to controls for greenhouse gases, particulates, and mercury, the companies within the Institute of Clean Air Companies are on the cutting edge of this field.

One power tussle that has the potential to be a game changer is the role the EPA has when it comes to monitoring, regulating, and enforcing greenhouse gases. Several threads of this story are unfolding, with no clear outcome in sight. To give you a chance of unraveling what may happen after this book has gone to press, let me give you a bit of history.

  • First, during a case between the state of Massachusetts and the EPA in 2007, the Supreme Court found, for the first time, that greenhouse gases fell under the auspices of the Clean Air Act.

  • Then in April 2009, the EPA filed paperwork with its findings that the combination of the six greenhouse gases is in fact harmful to humans and that the emissions from new vehicles have an effect on global warming. (You can read about this procedure on the EPA site.) Although these findings do not trigger any new regulations, those who emit greenhouse gases are more than a little nervous by this new state of affairs.

  • And finally, in June 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill passed the House of Representatives with an11th-hour compromise that limits the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide, one of the key greenhouse gases. If this version were to become law, power plants would not have any reason to update old carbon emitting equipment.

A grass-roots campaign has started to keep the Clean Air Act from being gutted by this critical bill on climate change.

Job opportunities in air resource management

If you want a career in air resource management, consider the following opportunities

  • Monitoring and compliance: Air quality program manager, air quality managing consultant, air quality chemist, air specialist, environmental testing technician, air quality project manager, air quality permitting specialist, air quality scientist, air quality engineer, air quality planner, air compliance specialist, environmental air specialist, environmental compliance specialist, remediation engineer

  • Designing and manufacturing air pollution control technologies: Environmental engineer, engineering resource manager, product development engineer, process design engineer, software engineer, process maintenance engineer, stress analysis engineer, computer-aided designer

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