Op-ed: 25,000 lives don't matter much to them
Earthjustice tries to make sense of why House Republicans want to delay life-saving health protections.
Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 08:34 PM
This opinion piece was written for Earthjustice and is reprinted here with permission.
Today, another indication comes that some members of Congress don't breathe the same air as their constituents. Politico is reporting that House Republicans will soon introduce legislation to delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce the amount of cancer-causing, asthma-inducing, premature death-dealing pollutants in the air we all breathe — some members of Congress excepted, apparently.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky), who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, was crystal clear about motives: "The objective is to delay the implementation of these regulations."
The health protections that House Republicans are trying to delay, which would finally clean up some of the nation's biggest toxic polluters — coal plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns — are already more than a decade late. In that time, unregulated pollution from these facilities has damaged our environment and made people sick. And what Whitfield didn't mention to reporters is that delaying these health protections further will lead to as many as 25,000 premature deaths … every year.
Here's a local yardstick: 25,000 people is nearly the number of students currently attending the University of Kentucky, Whitfield's alma mater.
The technology to reduce toxic air pollution — and save lives — is widely available and affordable to industrial polluters. And the pollution control industry, which is run by American workers who build, install, operate and maintain the systems that make our air cleaner, is ready to get to work. The only roadblock between us and cleaner air are representatives like Mr. Whitfield who are completely out of step with the American public.