EPA Fails To Protect Communities From Dangerous Air Hazards

by Robert Gardner

December 9, 2010

Michigan State Students protest dirty coal-fired power plant.

I guess ensuring clean air is not part of the EPA’s mandate. Oh wait, protecting Americans from significant risks to human health is exactly what the agency was formed to do.

Just yesterday, the EPA decided to shelf its common sense smog reduction plan. This is the third time that the EPA has passed the buck on ozone protection. Despite EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s announcements that her agency would protect public health, the EPA has chosen to play politics and do nothing.

Apparently, the EPA needs more time to consult with their own Clean Air Science Advisory Council (CASAC), despite the fact that this council has (even during the Bush years) unequivocally stated that the current standards are inadequate to protect human health.

Looks like industry got an early Christmas present. This, along with the recent inaction on the Boiler rule shows that the EPA’s mandate has shifted towards protecting polluting industry’s profit margins.

This rule has been years in the making. They know the facts. They know what is on the line. It’s time to act to protect people’s health.

The EPA estimated that its stricter standards  would help prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 58,000 cases of aggravated asthma and save up to $100 billion dollars in health costs annually.

Make no mistake, this rule has very real implications.

In the words of Charles O. Conner from the American Lung Association, “a sixmonth delay means that an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 people will lose their lives because they must breathe air pollution that would have been cleaned up if the EPA had met its most recent deadline of December 31, 2010.”

At what point does inaction become criminal?

Though we are discussing statistics, the truth is that because of EPA inaction, people will die. Good people’s illness will be aggravated and folks like you and me will have to spend lots of money unnecessarily. Plain and simple.

So, we wanted to give you a little taste of an individual that stands to lose because the EPA has chosen to do nothing:

Kyle Pray is a junior in International Relations specializing in African studies. Kyle said that his asthma got much worse when he started school in Grand Rapids. After he got very sick, he thought it might be a good idea to transfer over to Michigan State University. Unfortunately, his asthma has not gotten any better.

Kyle said, “I’ve spent my whole life in and out of the doctors for my asthma.  Knowing my university is powered by coal, a dirty energy that can cause asthma, I find little comfort in my health improving.”

“There are 5 coal plants within a 30 mile radius of Grand Rapids, MI all west of the city. If the wind blows east, seems plausible, huh? Including MSU’s coal plant,” there will be no relief in sight. Furthermore, there are 2 other plants within 10 miles of where Kyle lives right now.

If this common sense national standard had happened as planned, Kyle and other MSU students, along with millions of Americans could breathe a little easier.

Get to work Lisa Jackson, you have some explaining to do.

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