To the Editor:
Last week, the US House decided that keep our air safe is not important and passed a bill to restrict implementation of the new standards for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and lead. The “Smoggy Skies Act” (HR 4775) is an irresponsible attack on the Clean Air Act. This bill would double the time between EPA reviews of harmful pollutants (from 5 to 10 years) and caters to corporations that want permits to pollute at levels beyond national health standards.
The standards in place protect our health and environment, and should be based on science, not considerations of cost and “technological feasibility” for companies that put profits before people. The connection between climate change and health, particularly asthma is well established. Pumping more climate change pollutants into the air is impacting ozone pollen levels, increasing asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Richmond, Virginia leads the list of the worst cities for asthma and allergy sufferers, and the health effects will only worsen.
Smog pollution already sends thousands of children to emergency rooms each year and costs Americans’ billions in health care costs, lost productivity, and even premature deaths. Even more disconcerting is that smog pollution disproportionately hurts low income communities and communities of color. Preventing attacks like HR 4775, and implementing the Clean Power Plan is the next essential step in protecting our Health.