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Alex Allred and her family are surrounded by cement. Not concrete, which is made from cement, but the big industrial facilities that crush and heat limestone to make cement. She lives in Midlothian, TX, an area known locally as “The Cement Capital of Texas,” a distinction that Alex and her family cannot appreciate. Her son eight-year-old son, Tommy, has asthma. His visits to the hospital emergency room are too numerous to remember. His asthma attacks hit him like a tank, unexpected and relentless.

In the words of asthma sufferers, asthma feels:

“Like you’re in a pool of water. You can’t breathe. And when you try to breathe it don’t work.”

“Like you put a pillow over your face and pushed it. It’s horrible! You feel desperate because you can’t breathe.”

“Like you wish you could still be playing outside, where the air could be cleaner.”

The Clean Air Ambassadors who arrived yesterday in Washington, D.C. have some amazing stories to tell, and I spent the better part of yesterday hearing them. Alexandra Allred from Midlothian, TX described a day she spent outside with her son Tommy—a day when he didn’t suffer his usual respiratory issues and could play carefree, like a kid again. “I had my son back,” she told me.

More than half of U.S. residents—154 million people—suffer from polluted air that is often too dirty to breathe. This troubling statistic comes by way of the American Lung Association’s most recent State of the Air report. In 366 counties across the country, residents are inhaling dangerous levels of ozone pollution and fine particles, which are a major cause of premature death.

At a formal ceremony in Centralia, Washington, today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025.

Under the agreement, Canadian-based TransAlta, will provide $30 million to be invested in direct economic development and energy efficiency in the Centralia community, and an additional $25 million to be invested in clean energy technology development in Washington.

Several House members and right-wing bloggers believed they struck gold after House members indulged in a bit of chicanery at an April 15th Environment and Energy subcommittee hearing on a bill to remove EPA’s authority to establish strong coal ash regulations. The ruse started when Rep. Cory Gardner (R, CO) excerpted a single sentence from a 242-page Regulatory Impact Analysis prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed rule to regulate disposal of coal ash.  

I’ve spent half my life chasing salmon with rod in hand and heart in mouth, but it seems that I am the one who’s been hooked. Enchanted, perhaps, is a better way of describing my love of all things salmon; thus, at 8 p.m. this Sunday, you’ll find me riveted in front of a TV watching the PBS special, Salmon: Running The Gauntlet.

The faces of Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes, those courageous people from the coalfields whose lives are afflicted by mountaintop removal mining and who are standing up against it, are now staring down politicians in Congress and their staffs, as well as White House and agency staff, reminding them that they are allowing this abuse to continue. 

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.