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Indiana Rep. Young Supports Pollution!

February 25, 2011

Last week, I received an email from the Environmental Defense Fund informing me that the U.S. House of Representatives was launching an attack on the Clean Air Act (CAA). I happen to be a big fan of the CAA, and decided without reading further that this was one I needed to fight for. I followed the link the EDF provided for me to contact my local Representative, and sent him an email. On Friday, I got his response:

February 18, 2011

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions. I appreciate hearing from you. I recognize the need to protect and ensure the sustainability of our environment and the vast natural resources that our nation has been blessed with. However, I have serious concerns about the pace and depth at which the current administration continues to bypass Congress to enact policy change through the federal regulatory process. At a time when unemployment rates are at their highest in years, we should be focused on growing our economy and using policy to protect businesses and jobs, not creating regulations that place overbearing mandates on Hoosier businesses, schools and on the overall energy sector.  You may also be interested to know that I am a cosponsor of H.R. 97, the Free Industry Act, which was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on February 1, 2011. Among its provisions, this legislation amends the Clean Air Act to remove carbon dioxide from its list of “air pollutants.” This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Power for further consideration. Again, I appreciate hearing from you. It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives and I greatly appreciate your input. For more information please visit my website www.toddyoung.house.gov.

In Service, Todd Young

Member of Congress”

So, I wasn’t surprised that he shot me down on the legislation – He’s a republican, and for some reason the typical republican stance is that cheap production and consumption are the two most important things in the world; and the rest be damned if they happen to intervene. No offense, that is just my opinion – which happens supported by even minimal knowledge of their party ideals and voting record. I was upset he used the political process as a big excuse for why he didn’t support the CAA. Who cares if you don’t like the procedure, dude;  these laws were enacted to protect our health, and need to be upheld for the exact same reason! Let’s not attack the CAA just because you’ve got a beef with the lawmakers (a.k.a. democrats).

As I kept reading the letter, the part about the Free Industry Act completely floored me. I think the blood drained from my face, and then returned with all  the blood from the rest of my body. I was red and furious!

Here is the gist of the Free Industry Act:

Amends the Clean Air Act to: (1) exclude from the definition of the term “air pollutant” carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride; and (2) declare that nothing in the Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.”

I expected to read that they were hoping to cut the budget of the EPA (which they are, by the way); and I had even heard rumors that they were seeking to limit the power of the EPA. What totally shocked me was that this bill is an all out assault on the EPA’s ability to limit the emissions of  many of the pollutants that are spewing out into OUR air, and accelerating global warming in the process. These politicians actually want to regress!  So, I guess Rep. Young and the other sponsors of this bill just really don’t give a darn (although I have a few other choice words I’d rather slip in there) about the future of this planet, or its inhabitants!

Here is what I would like to say to U.S. Representatives Blackburn, Young, and the other 120 sponsors of this bill (and you can quote me on this):

You will all  have to breathe the same air the rest of us do. Your children, and grandchildren will breathe the same air our children and grandchildren  breathe. Do you really not care if that air is polluted, and full of toxins that absolutely will have a negative impact on their health and their quality of life? This is not a negotiable fact. It is simply the way it is.  I know you are fighting for businesses, and for the economy, but don’t you realize that reducing the environmental protections that we now have in place will only  “band-aid” the financial crisis we are experiencing – at best? Why do you refuse to recognize that sick people are very bad for the economy? Investing in our health right now is a great way to protect the vitality and the stability of the American workforce! Think about the children. Invest in their health! It’s worth it!

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2011 1:58 pm

    Good post on an important issue! I think most would agree that there is climate change and that human activity is a significant cause. My concern is that government action to reduce those activities will be ineffective or counter-productive if the US and Europe act without persuading developing countries to join us in limiting emissions. What will stop industry from re-locating to the jurisdictions with the least environmental regulations and lowest labor costs? If production shifts to other countries haven’t we hurt our economy without effectively reducing climate change?

    I’m also concerned that packaging climate change as a clean air and children’s health issue is misleading and will cause a public backlash. Dirty coal plants cause asthma and many other problems (including climate change). However, CO2 in the amounts that are being emitted by human activity do not cause asthma or any identifiable human health problem.

    I think we’ll be most effective in combating climate change by persuading the developing nations to join us in reducing greenhouse emissions and trusting the public enough to make reasoned arguments rather than scary rhetoric.

    • February 27, 2011 11:29 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Greg!
      While I think it is important to persuade developing countries to join our efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions – China, the US, and Europe were responsible for nearly 50% of the GHG emissions in 2007(the most up to date estimate I could find, unfortunately) – Which convinces me that these three nations should be making the most efforts to reduce emissions immediately. I think your concerns about businesses relocating are quite valid – even though I hate to believe that there could be so many unethical & greedy people out there. You’re absolutely right that we will need the developing nations to follow suit if we are going to provide a stable solution, and prevent the “big emitters” from moving to the less regulated areas!

      As for my public health stance – climate change is most certainly a public health issue, and people who aren’t willing to acknowledge it are just fooling themselves. People don’t have to drop dead from immediate contact with a substance for us to consider it bad for their health! Look at smoking, or obesity: We have all readily accepted that continuous exposure to cigarette smoke is what is bad for your health, and that consistently overeating can cause obesity. Well, emitting high levels of greenhouse gases will have a gradual but negative impact on our health. Maybe it has already, and we haven’t found the link yet; maybe it won’t happen for 30 more years. The truth is that we have the knowledge, and the ability to help ourselves.

      While I have to admit that the “clean air” argument is a bit weak (and I shouldn’t have used it), I still think it is important to understand that even though greenhouse gases are not immediately harmful, they are still pollutants as they do have a negative impact on our health. Therefore, air full of known pollutants cannot be called “clean” air! The Wikipedia encyclopedia defines air pollutant as “a substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment. Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases.” Greenhouse gases certainly fit that description. The EPAs website has a wealth of information (check out this link: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/index.html) detailing how sensitive our health and the environment is to climate change – a lot is at stake here: water, food, and our ability to adapt to ensure our survival. Greg, we learned a lot of this stuff in Mr. Mitchell’s science classes!!!

      I guess what bothers me most is that we have politicians who are attempting to gut a law that was created to protect our health for the long haul, and has made progress at doing just that. Let’s face it – If industries who throw a lot of money around to see that they don’t get regulated weren’t involved, this would not even be an issue. People would happily support the Clean Air Act. I think we’re in big trouble if we set the precedent that our environmental protection laws are up for sale!

      Oh, and I’d love to trust the public to make “reasoned arguments rather than scary rhetoric,” but with each side completely discounting the other as absurd, how do we get there??? I think you’re absolutely right – we could work to make real, steady progress if we would all work together, but with the supercharged political atmosphere we have right now – I’m afraid we’re doomed!

  2. February 28, 2011 10:57 am

    Here is a statement from the Ecology Center that I think is pertinent:

    ” The legislation proposed by House Republicans aims to prevent the EPA from limiting carbon dioxide pollution and other pollutants and toxins. “Carbon pollution is linked to asthma because it contributes to warmer temperatures, making it easier for smog to develop” according to Ted Schettler, a physician and science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. “Mitigation efforts can have significant additional health benefits beyond those resulting from the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, making them win-win strategies.” “

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