We grew up playing sports together in our small town of Covington, OH and my sister's inhaler was a constant companion.
A set of vivid memories from my childhood are of my sister’s panicked expression every time she was suffering from an asthma attack, which unfortunately was a fairly frequent occurrence. We grew up playing sports together in our small town of Covington, OH and her inhaler was a constant companion. Though we lived in a rural town, the air quality was worse than the national average. I didn't realize until later in life how much coal is burned in Ohio and how much cement is produced, how that pollution knows no boundaries and how those smokestacks aren't required by the Environmental Protection Agency to have scrubbers that would reduce pollution.
Unfortunately, those protections have been long overdue. The EPA has finally advanced health-protective standards, but Congress is attacking them. I now have five nephews and nieces and a sixth on the way. One of my biggest fears is that they'll struggle to breathe which is why I work everyday to ensure that they are protected just as the Clean Air Act intended for them to be.
In Washington D.C., we get a lot of pollution that floats into our airspace from other parts of the country, including the Ohio Valley. Even living hundreds of miles away from my home state, my air quality is still degraded because Ohio and other midwestern states don't have scrubbers on their coal-fired power plants, cement plants and incinerators. In the summer, the combination of the hot muggy weather and settling air pollution often leaves me feeling like I'm trying to breathe while being held underwater.
I want the Obama administration and Congress to support the health-protective standards being set by the EPA. It's been decades since the law directed these health protections to be put in place. The technology to do so is available and yet the biggest polluters continue to emit pollution unchecked. I want our government to make their decisions based on reducing asthma attacks for people like my sister, saving the public money by reducing air pollution related illness and missed school and work days. The time for putting people before industry profits and campaign contributions is now.