One of the questions for November's presidential election is how Americans feel about the environment and whether they are comfortable with the role of its guardian, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Judging by their actions, Republicans in Congress have made up their mind.
Together with their party's presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, they are convinced that the EPA is one of the prime villains of a regulatory overload crushing the economy. In Congress, they have launched dozens of bills and amendments seeking to gut the EPA's regulatory powers.
A prime example is expected to be voted on later this week when Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., tries to stop the EPA from implementing standards to reduce mercury and other airborne toxics from coal-fired power plants. The extremism of this move is extraordinary; mercury poses a serious danger to unborn children. In other words, a party that prides itself on protecting unborn babies willfully ignores that where the environment is concerned.
The cold calculation that puts unfettered commerce above people's healthy lives should be remembered when the discussion turns to soot. Forced by a federal court to abide by the Clean Air Act, the EPA last week updated its air quality standards for fine-particle pollution, including soot. The new standard would lower the amount of soot permitted from diesel trucks, buses and power plants.
The move is a great day for public health, because microscopic particles can penetrate deep in the lungs and are linked to serious health issues -- premature death, heart attacks, strokes, acute bronchitis and asthma in children. Nor is this uneconomical; a healthier population means lower health costs.
Moreover, the agency says, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standard without any further action.
The American people are going to hear a lot about "red tape" before November, but they also should think about red corpuscles and take a deep breath. Is that air good enough to fill their lungs?opinion_editorials
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 AM