The Clean Air Act has been defending public health and environmental quality since its implementation in 1970, and it’s important for us to protect it. For more than 40 years, it has been regarded as one of the most successful pieces of legislation.
The aggregate emissions of the six common air pollutants have dropped by 41 percent, while the GDP has more than doubled. According to a peer-reviewed Environmental Protection Agency study earlier this year, this policy has been expected to reach $2 trillion in net economic benefits for the year 2020 alone, which exceeds the costs by 30-to-1.
Despite Clean Air Act regulations, many areas of the country remain in violation of the basic health standards of air quality. Industries that emit toxic pollutants lead to increasing instances of asthma and heart attacks among seniors, children and people who spend time outside. The American people want clean air, and they want the EPA to enforce stricter standards.
A February poll for the American Lung Association found that more than 75 percent of voters supported more stringent limits on mercury, smog and carbon dioxide. Also, a new poll conducted by the National Resources Defense Council discovered that 78 percent of U.S. citizens want the EPA to hold corporate polluters accountable for their emissions.
Despite all the benefits the Clean Air Act provides, it continues to be attacked. The latest is attack from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is attempting to block the Cross State Air Pollution Rule — a recent rule created by the EPA that cuts down on the amount of air pollution carried over state lines.
Under Paul’s plan, states that refuse to clean up their power plant emissions would be allowed to continue letting pollution cross to other states. Implementation of this plan would lead to as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 asthma attacks each year.
More pollution doesn’t create jobs, but it does cost lives. The cost is also measured in lost opportunity for sustainable innovation and development.
Paul’s initiative wants to use a procedural gimmick to ignore public opinion and advance a “profits over people” agenda. The current clean air standards have been shown to have a net positive increase in job creation, with benefits to Americans that outweigh costs to polluting industries.
Paul’s attempt to cripple the Cross State Air Pollution Rule will usher in a new era: an era marked by increased pollution, dangerous air, worse public health and less economic opportunity. It rolls back the progress that the U.S. has made in the past 40 years.
Therefore, we call on Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., to stand on the side of public health and the environment, not with the industry profits. Help protect the Clean Air Act and oppose Paul’s agenda. Fight for cleaner air and better health.
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