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Citizen Army Lobbies Congress for Clean Air

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 May 2013, 9:35 AM
Ambassadors from every state arrive en masse to buttonhole congress reps
The grassroots campaign involved ambassadors from every state, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

A few days ago, a fierce army invaded Washington, D.C. to ask our representatives for something very simple: restore our right to breathe clean air.

This modest proposal came from more than 100 “clean air ambassadors” who know the cost of dirty air all too well. Take Hilton Kelley from Port Arthur, Texas, which is home to more than five large refineries, six chemical plants and an incinerator. In his community, one out of every five households has a child suffering from asthma and other contaminated-air-related illnesses. One day, after having moved away from his home town years ago, he looked in the mirror and asked himself, “If I’m not going to do anything about the conditions in Port Arthur, how can I expect anyone else to?”

Another clean air ambassador, Kathy Little from Louisville, Kentucky, lives within 100 yards from an old and filthy power plant and can often taste, smell and see fly ash from the plant blowing in the air. For her, it’s difficult to get off of the furniture, and she often wonders what these heavy metal particles lodged in her daughter’s lungs are doing to her child’s body. As an employee for a pro-coal company, Kathy’s view on cleaning up coal isn’t always popular, but she finds strengths in remembering Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Hilton Kelly, of Texas, stands in front of the U.S. Capitol in between congressional meetings.Hilton Kelly, of Texas, stands in front of the U.S. Capitol in between congressional meetings.

These nurses, physicians, clergy, labor and tribal leaders, and social justice advocates—who together represent all 50 states and Puerto Rico—come from all walks of life, but they had one thing in common. They were tired of our bodies and our environment being used as the dumping grounds for dirty industry.

In 1970, our legislators came together in a bi-partisan fashion to pass important amendments to the Clean Air Act that would allow our regulators to protect the public from deadly air pollution. Over the past 40 years, the Act has allowed us to make great strides in cleaning up our air, but stories like Hilton’s and Kathy’s remind us that we must do more to ensure that our air is safe to breathe by fulfilling the promises of the Clean Air Act. To start, we must:

  • Finalize a carbon emissions rule for existing coal-fired power plants and move forward on a standard to reduce emissions from existing power plants.
  • Finalize a federally enforceable coal ash rule. It’s been 5 years since the massive coal ash spill in Tennessee and yet we still don’t have any federal regulations for the disposal for toxic coal ash.
  • Strengthen the current standard for ozone pollution, or smog.
  • Finalize the pending cleaner gasoline and tailpipe standards.
Ambassadors laugh during a training on how to effectively lobby Congress.Ambassadors laugh during a training on how to effectively lobby Congress.

Our clean air ambassadors, who are living (and breathing) the consequences of inaction on air pollution issues, have already done their part and will continue to do more by taking their message back to their home states. Now, it’s time to do ours. Let’s amplify their message by telling our senators why clean air is important to us.

There’s no doubt that we are up against powerful industry interests that demand that our representatives put profits above people. But together, our voices can drown out the cacophony of corporate lobbyists. Together, we are 50 States United for Healthy Air.

All present fuel sources have waste products that have to be taken care of for ever, that cost will be paid for by our future generations that have not enjoyed the electric. Nuclear, coal , oil, & gas all have residual costs in money and bad health. Renewables are needed now! Clean up this place. We look like hoarders!

I aver that nothing will prove more precisely the old Maxim: "What goes around, comes around", than the fact that what we have allowed to be Sprayed on our Crops, Spilled onto our Land -including the Pesticide run-off from crops, spewed into our air, Buried in our Soil, dumped into our waters, Left in our sub-surface as a result of Hydraulic Mining (FRACKING) and Drilling operations, will soon be seen, smelt and tasted, in that order, as it comes back at us out of our spigots. Count on it!
The potential for the survival of our environment is related directly to the, insatiable, sociopathic GREED of the "Special Interests" and their carte blanche to continue to Pollute, Deceive the Public with specious Ads and, then, Pollute some more! As their GREED increases -and it will, our Environment will grow worse. GREED is not only taking this Country down -if something isn’t done to curtail it NOW, it will soon Wipe Us the Hell Out!
We are our Environment’s Keeper!
If not us, WHO? Certainly not those who are PROFITING FROM ITS DESTRUCTION!

Thank you for bringing your stories to be heard. I hope they will be. Please continue to fight for the right in all you do.

Healthy air, water and food has to be above corporate profits.

Emissions from Paper Mills and Biomass Plants are dirtier than" clean coal". Somehow this massive assault on our bodies, our land and water are being ignored by most environmental groups as more and more Biomass plants are built and promoted as green energy and supported with OUR tax dollars. Forests are being consumed to create the least effecient electricity while the particulate matter that comes out of the stacks can be very costly to our health.
Please look into the Biomass problem as more plants are built each day. The money that goes into Biomass is money not being spent on truly green alternatives. Your help and support on this issue is needed NOW.

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