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ALA continues fighting for better air quality (Letter)

November 15, 2011

To the Editor,

Congress has become increasingly fixated on dismantling clean air protections and impeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ability to improve public health. Last month, House Leaders passed the TRAIN Act, the most dangerous assault on the clean air protections ever. And now in the Senate, we have Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) attempt to utilize the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to thwart the implementation of the life-saving Cross State Air Pollution Rule. The rule is expected to protect the public from deadly toxins emitted by industrial plants in other states, of which citizens of Sen. Paul’s own state of Kentucky would benefit from greatly.

Blocking this rule would effectively reward industry polluters and punish those most vulnerable to dirty air, like children and the elderly. It would also limit the effectiveness of efforts states have made to improve air quality by allowing plants in neighboring states to dump their polluted air next door. This is not fair to those states, nor is it fair to its residents who suffer the consequences.

Sen. Paul’s push for a CRA is part of a broader effort by some in Congress to dismantle the Clean Air Act: a law that protects public health and reduces health care costs for all by preventing thousands of adverse health outcomes, including: cancer, asthma attacks, strokes, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths.

A rigorous, peer reviewed analysis, The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, conducted by the EPA, found that the air quality improvements under the Clean Air Act will save $2 trillion by 2020 and prevent at least 230,000 deaths annually. Additionally, the public supports EPA’s efforts to implement and update the Clean Air Act. A recent bipartisan survey indicates that those pushing riders or otherwise interfering with EPA are out of touch with voters. The survey shows that over 70 percent of voters do not want Congress to stop the EPA from setting stricter pollution limits and 66 percent of voters would prefer that EPA set pollution standards, not Congress. Moreover, 54 percent of voters believe updates are actually more likely to create new jobs than cost existing ones.

The American Lung Association stands with the American people and strongly opposes any attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act, which has had a long history of bi-partisan support and a proven track record of protecting public health.

I ask you to support full implementation of the Clean Air Act and oppose all efforts to weaken, delay or block progress toward the continued implementation of this vital law.

Liz DiMartino
American Lung Association

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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