RIGHT TO BREATHE: 50 STATES UNITED

Harry Wang

We deserve clean air for all our citizens to breathe, especially our children, seniors, and those with chronic health issues.

Profession: Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Group Affiliation: Physicians for Social Responsibility, President of the Sacramento Chapter

Clean Air Ambassador:

Harry Wang, MD

Sacramento, CA

My family has always enjoyed being in the outdoors in nature. We hike in California's Sierra Nevada mountains every year and enjoy daily walks along the Sacramento River. Our daughter's asthma and hospitalization at age eight brought my professional concerns about the impact of poor air quality to a very personal level.

We deserve clean air for all our citizens to breathe, especially our children, seniors, and those with chronic health issues. The science is clear about the devastating health effects of air pollution and what needs to be done to protect our community. The Clean Air Act must be fully implemented. Attempts to weaken this public health law or undermine the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be rejected.
 

All Messages: Supporting Our Clean Air Ambassadors.

I am 62, disabled, and have many illnesses, including asthma and COPD. I HANE to have clean air to breath or I get into trouble with my lungs, heart, and the rest of my body, and it is almost immediate! I do not matter, but the children of this world, and all of the wildlife do!! We have destroyed this world. I don't know how we are going to fix it now!! But we must have clean air in order to do anything. And the republibums and fat cats do not care, and frankly do not want us to survive! Those total jerks are already going to Mars, to establish their own world government, and they do not give a gold-plated damn for the rest of us! It's already happening. This will be their dumping ground!!!!!! How does THAT make you feel!!!!!!!!!!!?

I like to thank you Dr. Wang for recognizing how important it is for not only people but for all species and ecosystems to be living in a pollution free environment.

We deserve clean air for all our citizens to breathe, especially our children, seniors, and those with chronic health issues. The science is clear about the devastating health effects of air pollution and what needs to be done to protect our community. The Clean Air Act must be fully implemented. Attempts to weaken this public health law or undermine the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be reject

Climate change and the national economic crisis thrust federal wildlands front and center onto the policy-making stage in 2009. The federal government sees the nation’s wildlands as a critical component for resolving these two problems. Wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and floods are increasing in intensity, forcing the government to take action to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in an attempt to contain these natural phenomena. Catastrophic wildfires are believed to emit huge amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere and cost the federal government billions of dollars in suppression. These two issues have prompted the White House to direct land management agencies (LMAs) to create a cohesive, multi-agency solution to the problem. As a result, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 included the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), created to reduce wildfire suppression costs, protect wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities, and promote forest health. Delayed governmental acknowledgement of climate change has led LMAs to rush headlong into the first, easiest, and cheapest solution available, a protocol of extensive forest “fire treatment,” projected to lower overall GHGs and fire suppression costs. The problem with this solution is that LMAs did not include the public in this decision-making and the protocol they have developed is of questionable scientific soundness, violates the Clean Air Act (CAA), the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and the public’s right to clean air.
On December 7, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that GHGs “threaten the public health and welfare of the American People.” This “final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the CAA definition of air pollutants.” GHGs naturally occur in the Earth’s environment but have increased dramatically due to human activity. One of the most common GHGs is Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Forests serve as the planet’s mechanism to transform CO2 into oxygen. Trees absorb CO2, lock the carbon into their tissues, and emit oxygen. Because of this, healthy forests are described as “carbon sinks.” According to Western State Foresters, “if managed for maximum productivity, carbon sequestered in U.S. forests could account for 20-25% of the needed emissions reductions nation-wide.”
By implementing the CFLRP, LMAs claim they can avert catastrophic wildfires, prevent huge GHG emissions, and create better carbon sink forests while also lowering fire suppression costs. Scientific papers from organizations such as the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have produced mixed reports on the benefits of fire treatment and the quantities of CO2 emissions from catastrophic wildfires. These reports use cautionary wording such as, “the use of prescribed burns to manage western forests may help the United States reduce its carbon footprint” and state their research on wildfire carbon emissions “have a margin of error of about 50 percent.” In light of these scientific findings, Sequoia and Yosemite’s management of the Sheep, Slope, and Vernon fires is reckless and irresponsible, especially given the fact that The Brookings Institute 2008 document, The Future of Wildland Fire Management, Advanced Briefing Report for the 2009 Quadrannial Fire Review states, “smoke will be an increasing health factor in the WUI as 30-35% of households in the WUI have smoke related health issues.” Interesting, the Quadrannial Fire Review’s 2009 Final Report reads somewhat differently, they removed the “30-35% of households” statistic and replaced it with “a number of households”—this wording is much less inflammatory.
The current state of our national forests is a result of 100 years of aggressive fire suppression and 50 years of intensive timber harvesting policies by LMAs. The protocol of fire suppression arose from a nationally traumatic event in 1910 called “The Big Burn,” which charred 3 million acres of forests in Idaho and Montana and killed 78 firefighters. This event served to define the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) as an organization. Created in 1905, the USFS came under the direction of one “the veterans” of The Big Burn in 1935. During his tenure, Chief Gus Silcox “declared that all forest fires should be extinguished by 10 am the following day.” The CFLRP has been enacted to reverse this “no burn” policy and “return fire to its natural environment” in order to avert conflagrations such as The Big Burn and last year’s Angeles National Forest Station Fire. The fallacy of this theory is that fire was part of the forest ecosystem in Idaho and Montana prior to 1910. These forests weren’t “overstocked” with dense stands of small trees yet The Big Burn happened anyway—in forests treated by fire.
Earlier this year, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council “chartered the Cohesive Strategy Oversight Committee (CSOC)” to create a cohesive national wildfire management strategy. The OSOC held 15 forums “with representatives from all levels of firefighting organizations, state and local governments and non-profit organizations to engage stakeholders in the wildfire issue for development of the strategy.” Interestingly, although this cohesive strategy is about managing public lands, apparently the public was not deemed a “stakeholder,” and therefore, was not invited. The forum summaries make for interesting reading. The Olympia, WA members were the most thoughtful and ethical group, stating, “Protect public health and safety, especially effects of smoke (Clean Air Act). Protect National Ambient Air Quality Standards, especially PM 2.5 [smoke emissions]. Determine cost for protecting resources, including human health. Coordinate and communicate with regulatory agencies, health agencies and general public. Protect visibility in Class I area with respect to smoke.” The Reno members asked, “How to remove politics and home rule from the planning and implementation? How do we get the public to accept even more smoke?” The Ruidoso, NM, members wondered, “Is air quality a value? or a desire?” Apparently, they misplaced their copy of the Clean Air Act. And the Sacramento members asked, “How can we restore the natural background smoke emissions while addressing the potential health impacts to local communities affected by 100 years of fire suppression and associated fuels accumulations? How can we reduce NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] and CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] requirements and time for fuel reduction, especially adjacent to communities?” Except for the Olympia forum’s comments, few of these statements are in any way reassuring that LMAs officials, implementing the CFLRP, will observe and uphold air quality laws and standards.
In 2004, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Great Basin, Mariposa, Amador, Calaveras, and Placer Unified Air Pollution Control Districts, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the USFS, and the EPA, drafted a Wildland Fire Use Coordination and Communication Protocol (WFU). This document was created “to establish the coordination framework that will be used to minimize smoke/emission impacts from naturally ignited wildland fires that are managed for resource benefits.” According to this protocol, WFUs were subject to CARB’s smoke management plan (SMP), which required LMAs to have contingency plans should the smoke impact “smoke sensitive areas.” Since the CFLRP went into effect, CARB has decommissioned the WFU protocol and is in the process of drafting a new policy, one that is “not regulatory.” This change in policy suggests there will be no consequences for LMAs polluting the Eastern Sierra with smoke.
“I believe intelligent societies will not long accept incoherent actions. In wildland forest management, either we help establish a coherency of action at the local, state, and federal levels or the uninformed will do so,” stated Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management, USFS, and keynote speaker at the 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review. Given the smoke pollution Eastern Sierra residents have endured over the last few months, the CFLRP is far from a coherent plan. This policy is diametrically opposed to the intangible values Americans hold dear: good health, quality-of-life, and a clean environment. It is time for the “intelligent” but “uninformed” to tell the LMAs their forest management policies are incoherent and unacceptable.

We never seem to pay attention to long term health problems with dirty air. The symptoms might only show up in 20-30 40 years.

Impressive site!! Great cause!! Hope we can enjoy some clean air with you this summer in Yosemite.

Carrie

I add my thank you to Dr. Wang and
Earthjustice for your efforts on behalf of
clean air. Without clean air life is not
sustainable and will polluted air be our
generations future legacy? I hope that we
can do better. Keep up the good work!!!

Thank you Dr. Wang for your efforts to bring a healthier environment to all of us.

Clean air is a critical component to a healthy life and planet.Let's put people before profits.
Actually there are a lot of profits to be made with clean energy along with job growth, so
what's the holdup.

Without clean air little else matters.

I support Ambassador Harry Wang.

Without clean air we get sick. Our children get sick. Dirty jobs mean sick people. Sick people mean more money is needed for health care.
It also costs a lot of money to clean up dirty air. Is this what we want to do to our children and grandchildren?
I have one child who had childhood asthma, and another who is suffering as an adult from asthma, and grandchildren who are also suffering from asthma. The cost of dirty air is huge.
Thank you Harry for taking our message to Wahington, and thank you to Earthjustice for your fight for our right to clean air, clean jobs.

Thanks for the good work you are doing, Harry.

Thank you.

we need people to fight for what is right not corporations who think of their pockets only!

Thanks Harry. Put it to them!

I'm embarrassed. As a Respiratory Therapist, I would have thought that the American Association for Respiratory Care would be there with you lobbying for the full implementation of the Clean Air Act.

I am also a member of the Sacramento County Public Health Advisory Board. We meet tomorrow and I will mention your efforts in D.C. to improve clean air enforcement.

Air quality in the Central Valley is terrible. There are hot spots: in Roseville at the railyards; in Fresno. But we're all at risk, especially those with asthma and chronic lung disease.

Michael Monasky, RCP-RRT
Elk Grove, CA

We DESERVE clean air! Our children deserve clean air. Its NOT okay to allow it to be polluted the way it currently is. Please clean it!!

Thank so much!

Clean air for all! Thank you for keeping this thoroughly abused concept alive.

Yes!!! Keep up the great work!

Our family lives on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, they hike, snowshoe, x-c ski and go
kayaking...so the clean air up there is very
important and the Clean Air Act will make it possible for this to continue.
Keep up your efforts in this area, Harry!
We support you fully. Thanks from a
Sierra Club member.

My father-in-law died of chronic bronchitis and it was difficult to see him have trouble breathing in the last years of his life. He lived in the Los Angeles area most of his life and the last thirty years he resided less than 1/2 mile from two freeways.

Please do what you can to help strengthen the regulations governing air pollution. Thanks!

thank you

Air, clean of pollutants, including NOISE from vehicles-especially damning, deisel powered trucks of all sizes ought to be, if not banned outright, then legislatively mandated to reduce their noise as well as their tailpipe emissions!

We all need to stand tall and have the courage to protect our human right to have clean air, water and energy because the media and corporations do not respect these rights of the people and will sacrifice us for their bottom line. We appreciate you Harry because you know we are all part of the web of life.

Thank you for taking a stand against polluters. All of us, especially those with breathing difficulties(such as me), appreciate what you're doing.

Thank you!

Thank you! This is very much appreciated.

Thanks for being there for us!

Thanks, Harry, for speaking out for us!

Thank you so much Harry!!!

Harry: An excellent cause. Thank you.

Thank you Dr.Harry, I am thankful for you and the PSR you represent in Wahington,DC.
Speaking about justice - Earth justice- clean air, no pesticides, no agric.multinationals dictating to farmers is where we should begin; it is justice we can achieve in the USA if our Government is serious with 'Justice for all'.. Add to that - energy that is renewable, people-friendly and designed to save our planet.
Erika

Thank you for being our Ambassador. I have spent time in other countries where the air pollution was so terrible that it made me sick. In 2006, as a Fulbright Lecturer in Bulgaria, I finally had to leave the country, giving up the Fulbright and work that I loved, to go home. It took me nearly a year to feel as though I were breathing normally. While there, I met Peace Corps volunteers who had to use inhalers ever day to get by. The sky there was blue and the air looked clear, not foggy or sooty. Both in Bulgaria and at home, when the air seems "clear," people were reluctant to believe there was something there. The Americans in Sofia were the ones who didn't "get" it; the Bulgarians knew. Other experiences working in India and in China gave me experience with air that looked like I could grab it like cotton candy. It doesn't have to be like this. We could do many simple things that would save lives. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of all of us.

I'm 55 years old , and the environment just keeps going down hill, and seems to be the last priority. I want the legacy for those that inherit the earth from us, to be one of hope.

Clean air is a human right and a right of all life, including the mother earth.

Thanks for this work you are doing,

Garrett

Thank you so much! I fear that decent air and clean water will go the way of the stars in the city sky at night. What was a birthright (the enjoyment of a breath of fresh air, a soothing drink of water, an awe-inspiring gaze at the twinkling night-time heavens) is rapidly going the way of the dodo. Of course, so will we....

Thank you for all the help you give to our planet and health. When there is pressure from politicians and corporate entities we need people like you to stand up to them with hard, irrefutable evidence.

Thank you for working hard to protect our efforts to keep the air clean. As a Southern California native, I am keenly aware of the devastating consequences of smog. We were literally choking on it in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thanks for looking out for us.

Thank you for being my voice too to protect our air!

Thank you for continuing to stand up for clean air. We are too short-sighted to realize that this is a problem that must be tackled now, and not when it's already too late. I love to run and I want to be able to for the rest of my life - not just remember what it was like when the air used to permit me to do it. Bless you!

Thank you Senator for your great work!

Thank you for helping to protect California's air.

I remember studying smog as a child in grade school in oak park, IL and seeing pictures of Los Angeles in the morning and then in the afternoon. I have witnessed the improvement in the air quality since I moved to California 36 years ago.

Please keep up your efforts to make California better.

Keep up the good work!

I grew up in New Jersey before passage of the Clean Air Act. Once summer arrived, the skies were gray whether or not there were clouds, save for a few hours after a thunderstorm. I suffered severe headaches during the summer, no matter how many aspirins I took; and the little girl across the street suffered from asthma and required multiple hospitalizations.

I was amazed when I returned for a visit during August of 1986, and the skies were blue.

Please don't take us back to gray skies on sunny days: Fully support implementation of the Clean Air Act.

Keep it up, Mr. Wang! YOU ROCK!!!

The planet thanks you.

Thank you for your tireless effort to help us all. Best wishes!

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