Environment: Simple Acts to Help Reduce Air Pollution

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Environment—We all want health for ourselves and our children. We also need jobs so that we can take care of our families’ needs and a few of our wants. Indirectly, we need businesses to succeed so that we can have those jobs. We have a government, in America, that is appointed to provide the framework for the meeting of those needs. For the most part, that government does its job; it’s safe to say that most of us aren’t dying, homeless, and unemployed. But, as is often the case, different parts of our government, big and unwieldy as it is, find themselves at odds with each other. Most recently, it is our Environmental Protection Agency and our Congress that are squaring off. They are clashing over proposed amendments to the Clean Air Act. They can’t agree on which thing is most important to protect: our health or our jobs.

Basically, what’s happening is this: the EPA is fighting to carry out its mandates of compelling power plants to reduce by half smokestack emissions that pollute the air and poison forests, lakes and streams. Congress and lobbyists for industrial businesses are fighting the EPA because the cost of updating their pollution-control systems “would impede economic growth.” At first glance, it may seem easy to take the EPA’s side and say “Yes! We want cleaner air. We want less of the health problems associated with pollution.” But, by virtue of doing that, aren’t we then saying “Do whatever you have to do to make our air cleaner, even if it means you have to incur costs so prohibitive that it puts you out of business and necessitates that you lay off a lot of people.”? If they lay those people off, if many industrial businesses lay people off simultaneously, doesn’t that affect our economy as a whole, as those people then spend less and lose houses, causing other businesses to downsize or close, contributing to the downward spiral that is our current recession?

This battle between the EPA and Congress has been going on for more than 40 years. They apparently have not figured out how to balance our needs. That does not mean, though, that there is not a solution out there. That solution will necessitate our involvement, on one side of the issue or the other, or on both. The American Lung Association has recently renewed its Healthy Air Campaign efforts, in part through an appeal to bloggers to add their voices and encourage their readers to do the same by 1) visiting  www.stateoftheair.org and learning about how air pollution may be impacting their particular  community, 2) visiting the ALA’s website: www.LungUSA.org, 3) going to this site to download videos and pictures about how air pollution impacts health and what people can do to stand up for the Clean Air Act, or 4) contacting their senators to voice their opinions. Of course, if you feel inclined to support industry, or at least help them find a viable solution, you should also contact your elected representatives.

Where do you stand? What is most important to you: clean air or jobs? Are there other questions that can be asked? Does the updating of pollution-control systems have to mean lay-offs or downsizings? The EPA says it doesn’t in this article. Are there other ways you can think of to help resolve this long-fought battle and find the balance we all need?

How will you stand up for clean air? What are simple acts that you can do to help get cleaner air for your community?

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