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Stephanie Maddin's blog

Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and the number one reason for excused medical absences from school. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that the annual cost of asthma in the U.S. was more than $53 billion.

This is a guest blog by Katie Huffling. She is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and is coordinating the efforts of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE). In her work with ANHE, Ms. Huffling works with nurses nationwide on a variety of environmental health issues including air pollution and asthma.

Stephanie Maddin-Smith

From a young age, I was keenly aware of the concept of injustice. At seven, I watched the Civil Rights era documentary Eyes on the Prize and was convinced that the best way to address injustice was through legal advocacy.  As I grew up, my conviction for the importance of voting and civil engagement continued to grow. One humorous milestone in my civic development involved my local newspaper chronicling my 11 year-old self bemoaning trickle-down economics and wishing I could vote.

“…My son's school would be named in a USA Today report as being in the upper 1 percent of the most toxic schools in the nation—the same school I butted heads with cement plant executives about being under the toxic plumes while children were at recess.”

– Alex Allred,
50 States United Clean Air Ambassador from Texas

A child suffering from asthma.

No one likes to breathe dirty and polluted air. Unfortunately, for some communities there may be little to no choice.

But today, the EPA took a step in the right direction to clean up soot pollution and protect millions of Americans forced to breathe dirty air. Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a tightened standard that will limit soot pollution in many major metropolitan areas across the country, cleaning up the smokestacks and tailpipes that belch out this dirty pollution.

That coal- and oil-fired power plants are big air polluters is beyond question—they emit hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous air pollution (mercury, lead, acid gases, e.g.), far more than any other industrial polluter. And yet, many in Congress question whether we should do anything about this major threat to public health. The debate took center stage yesterday in a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

This week, President Obama has conducted a bus tour through my home state of Virginia and North Carolina. The tour focused on job creation and the state of our economy.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress thinks weakening our clean air and water protections is the foundation of economic renewal.

It takes chutzpah to assert that there aren't enough skilled workers—during the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression—to comply with EPA regulations to reduce air pollution. But the power sector has done just that. For example, American Electric Power Co. has suggested that there are not enough specialized workers to comply with air pollution reduction regulations.

Thankfully, organized labor has forcefully rebutted these claims.

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