Certainly, one of the most important functions of government is to protect the health and safety of the citizens that it purports to serve.
I am a semi-retired school psychologist and have lived in Evansville, Indiana for more than five years now. I relocated here with my husband after having lived most all of my life in a southern state. My husband was born and raised in Evansville but I was the one who fell for the seasons, the beauty of the land, and the civility of the people. Each year as we visited the area, I found myself more and more attracted to the quality of life that seemed woven into the fabric of our daily experiences here.
Once my husband and I became full-time residents in Evansville, the fondness I felt for this area continued to grow. But imagine my reaction when I found out that Indiana is home to some of the worst air pollution in the nation—pollution that is due to having the largest concentration of coal-fired power plants in the world. In addition to the air pollution, 100 percent of Indiana streams and lakes carry “Fish Consumption Advisories” warning women of child bearing age and children to severely limit their consumption of fish caught in Indiana. Most of these advisories are for mercury, which can cause mental retardation and destroy brain and other nervous system tissue in humans.
Moreover, the air pollution released from the power plants contains cancer-causing chemicals at levels that are serious threats to public health. Another by-product of burning coal is dangerous coal ash that is currently stored in a very unsafe manner in dumps, ponds, and landfills which can leach into drinking water sources and poison the air with fugitive dust.
President Obama, Envrionmental Protection Agency officials, members of Congress and other decision makers should fully support the Clean Air Act and allow the EPA to implement strong safeguards on coal ash. They should also set strong federal limits on mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants. Finally, the agency needs to limit ozone (smog) pollution, and implement strong, health-based protections from toxics produced by cement plants, boilers and incinerators.
Furthermore, I am strongly urging Indiana’s legislators, Senators Coats and Lugar and Representative Buschon to protect their constituents from these hazards. Certainly, one of the most important functions of government is to protect the health and safety of the citizens that it purports to serve. Thus far, our elected representatives have served primarily to shield the industries that cause this danger to the public from complying with the reasonable safeguards necessary to protect the people who elected them.