Will Bullies Win the Fight for Clean Air?
Remember when you were in grade school, playing some kind of team game and the score was so close? Your side got over the top—and then the most menacing member of the opposition would call, “Do-Over!”
It seems that despite whatever advancements the Environmental Protection Agency makes to keep the air clean and the public’s health safe, there will always be those calling for a “do-over.” It’s no longer the bully with the cowlick that always punched the boys or tripped the girls when the teacher wasn’t looking—it’s lobbyists, big coal and oil, those in industry with clout, and all the others who put profits over people.
It took decades to get the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards released, and within weeks, the pushback has already begun. The Obama administration has presented landmark protection initiatives against airborne toxins, but the spin game has started in earnest. There are those in Congress who have vowed to fight the new proposed regulations, despite polls that clearly show the American public supports the EPA and their efforts to protect the country’s air, water and land.
The facts are stated repeatedly. Mercury affects children’s brains. Toxic metals including nickel, arsenic, and chromium can cause cancer. New standards will eradicate 90 percent of power plant toxic emissions. As per the EPA, “Together, MATS and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule are estimated to provide annual benefits of $150-$380 billion and prevent 18,000 – 46,000 premature deaths, 540,000 asthma attacks, 13,000 emergency room visits and 2 million missed work or school days each year.”
So what’s the problem? Well, first you have to wonder where politicians in opposition to the regulations are getting their information, and who their funders are. Many have received support from the Koch brothers, who are actively supplying big dollars to those agreeing with their premise that there is no such thing as climate change.
The Christian Science Monitor did a round up in December of where the field of Republican Presidential contenders stood on energy issues and the environment. It wasn’t encouraging. Jon Huntsman, who ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on January 16, had been the most moderate, admitting to believing the science on global warming—while supporting “clean coal.” Rick Perry, who has been vocal about suspending “the job-killing Clean Air Act,” came to the conclusion on January 19 that there was “no viable path forward” for him. He has endorsed Newt Gingrich, who would “maximize oil, gas, and clean coal production.” Of the remaining Republican field, Rick Santorium resolves to “repeal Obama-era EPA regulations” and Ron Paul would just “eliminate the EPA.”
Mitt Romney has been in a class by himself, targeted for flip-flopping on a wide range of topics. His rapidly morphing reflections on climate change have garnered over 3500 views on YouTube.
The EPA has put out a Fact Sheet with bulleted points covering:
- Protecting public health
- Overdue reductions lead to vital health benefits
- Practical, cost-effect and protective standards
- Jobs for American workers
- Reliable, affordable energy
It will be the role of voters to demand that those running for office, at all levels, have a clearly defined stand on how the United States chooses to move into the 21st Century—regarding our piece of the planet.
It’s time to stand up to the bullies.