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NY and LA Times Call for Clean Air

Over the weekend, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times both ran editorials in defense of clean air. Set against the increasing number of congressional maneuvers to stymie the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its popular programs for clean air, it is refreshing to see two of the nation’s largest newspapers take a strong position in support of Americans’ right to breathe.

Among the EPA’s many important efforts to protect public health are limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from cement plants, industrial boilers and incinerators, and the worst of all mercury polluters, power plants. These health protections will save lives and money by making our air safer to breathe.

From the New York Times editorial:

The agency does have a heavy regulatory agenda. It will issue proposals not only on greenhouse gases but also ozone, sulfur dioxide and mercury, which poisons lakes and fish. These regulations are fully consistent with the Clean Air Act. Some of them should have been completed during the Bush years; all are essential to protect the environment. The agency’s administrator, Lisa Jackson, has moved cautiously, making clear that she will target only the largest polluters and not, as the Republicans claim, mom-and-pop businesses.

Such common sense arguments, however, are unlikely to resonate with a newly powerful faction within Congress that places the interests of dirty polluters over the health of their voting constituents. This faction’s desire to kneecap the EPA appears insatiable, not to mention out-of-touch with the wishes of the American public. Unsurprisingly, the core message of these crusaders is that the EPA’s health protections will lead to economic ruin. “But then, that’s nothing new,” said the Los Angeles Times:

EPA efforts under the Clean Air Act to mandate catalytic converters in cars, regulate smokestack emissions that produce acid rain or to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals have been met by predictions of economic catastrophe by conservatives and industry for 40 years. Instead, such actions have saved tens of thousands of lives, stopped the environmental devastation caused by acid rain and countered the ozone threat even as the nation's gross domestic product has grown to 14 times what it was in 1970.

The EPA’s current work to clean the air we all breathe will further this tradition of saving lives and money without causing the theoretical economic catastrophes that are the mantra of polluters and their congressional allies.