U.S. voters have always valued a clean environment and good health.
I grew up in western Michigan on the coast of Lake Michigan, with a municipal power plant in my hometown and another, larger plant just north of town—a stones-throw from where my cousins and I would play on the beach and swim in the water. It seemed common knowledge that one wouldn't want to eat the fish in the "big lake" or in Lake Macatawa because of the pollution from those and other facilities.
My grandfather died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and my mother has it too, though in a mild form. Now living in Kentucky I am keenly aware of the poor air quality from power plants and manufacturing facilities that dot the state. I have several nieces and nephews in the Appalachians who have respiratory problems as well.
Having successfully defeated a proposed chemical weapons incinerator in my county, our greatest concerns have been the nearby power plants—run by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative and by Kentucky Utilities—and their respective coal ash impoundments.
President Obama needs to be a true leader for a healthy future for our nation, and not duck behind the industry apologists in Congress who claim that clean air and clean water are somehow a threat to our economy. The facts show otherwise, and U.S. voters have always valued a clean environment and good health. Congress needs to uphold and defend the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to enforce the strongest possible pollution standards. And the EPA needs to continue to utilize strong science and a precautionary approach to rein in harmful pollution.