Personal Responsibility and the Fight for Clean Air

As I was walking down the street, ruminating about a series of situations that were affecting me, I realized that an awful lot of people don’t want to take personal responsibility.  It was one of those aha moments.  I determined that the scale could be large or small.  Either way there was a definitive ripple effect.  My realization took off and morphed into this is applicable everywhere.

I saw the same situation playing out when I watched the news.  Rupert Murdoch had no idea about his company hacking into people’s phones.  Elected officials were passing around the debt ceiling issue like a hot potato, working to make sure that whatever transpired would not be ascribed to their actions.

Since April, I have been writing for the Moms Clean Air Force, to bring attention to what is at stake in the fight to assure that all Americans have safe air to breathe. It is essential for children—as well as for older folks, disadvantaged communities, those with respiratory ailments, and the rest of the public. Furthermore, it’s imperative that parents take a leadership role in this effort.

I have received feedback from readers telling me that my articles have helped explain many of the complex topics that they previously did not understand.  Without a doubt, the volumes of information and stats can be complicated stuff.  It certainly doesn’t help the layperson get a clear grasp of what the actual hazards are when the big boys from the oil, mining, and utilities sector repeatedly take the stage and dispute the science, by dismissing it. This cabal is fighting to ineffectualize the Environmental Protection Agency, their programs, and their legislation.  The connection between these lobbies and their contributions to elected representatives was succinctly addressed by Daniel J. Weiss and Stewart Boss in their piece, “Health for Sale: House EPA Bill Allows Pollution and Supporters Get Big Oil Donations.”

Currently, Fred Upton (R-MI), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has stated that it is his goal to block the E.P.A.’s clean air safeguards. American Electric Power (AEP) based in Columbus, Ohio, has taken the initiative to draft its own legislation to supersede what the E.P.A. has proposed. It has been active in hampering the agency’s initiatives at every turn.  Ironically, Ohio garners the number one spot on the list of “Toxic 20” states, with the most poisonous air pollution emanating from power plants.

The facts couldn’t be any clearer.  The E.P.A. has estimated that the reduction in pollution, as a result of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that they have put forth, would:

  • Save 17,000 lives every year by 2015
  • Prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
  • Avoid over 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits
  • Prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
  • Prevent 850,000 lost workdays every year.

Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, a pediatrician for over thirty years and a co-founder of the Tampa Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has stated, “Air toxics from coal-fired power plants cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illness. Just one of those air toxics, mercury, damages the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and small children.   It robs our children of healthy neurological development and native intelligence.”  Ringenberg qualified that coal pollution was the “biggest source of toxic air pollution.”

Here’s where I get all Frank Capraesque…as in Frank Capra, the director who portrayed the power of the little people.  Think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  It’s a tale of idealism going up against graft, and it’s as relevant today as it was in 1939.

Instead of people just shaking their heads and sighing, “Well, what can I do?”…The answer is simple.  Take a proactive step.  The window of opportunity to send a comment of support to the E.P.A. is drawing to a close.  August 4th to be exact.  The MCAF site is set up to facilitate advocacy.  This link will give you a template on how to write a letter, along with the e-mail address and the docket numbers you must include.  There are also share buttons to help you amplify the message, and a page to sign up to become part of ongoing initiatives.

Social media has made it a lot easier for everyone to have a voice and to act on their beliefs and convictions.  As Mr. Jefferson Smith said, “Either I’m dead right, or I’m crazy!”

This article was written for the Moms Clean Air Force Blog.

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