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The report card was a jumble of Cs and Ds. As my coworker gazed over his kid's latest performance in school, a mixture of anger, disappointment, frustration, guilt and uncertainty flooded him. "Where did I go wrong?" he mumbled. No doubt his kid felt a mixture of emotion, too.

Report cards can be grueling for parents and kids alike. Poor performance in school is a hot button social issue, and one that's been studied and debated from many angles—but we may be giving short shrift to one of its roots: air pollution.

The hearing room on the 4th floor of the Dirksen Senate Office building was packed—so packed that some onlookers stood in the back of the room to see the action unfold. All had gathered earlier today for "Air Quality and Children's Health," a hearing before members of two subcommittees of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Before a panel of senators sat five witnesses—two of them with the shameful purpose of arguing against air quality standards that protect children's health.

This week more than 600 concerned citizens will participate in the largest mass mobilization against mountaintop removal mining that this country has ever seen, Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain.

Since the GOP won a majority in the House in 2010, the Obama administration has gone into "go-slow" mode - or even has taken a U-turn on presidential initiatives on air pollution and climate change.  The Los Angeles Times took aim at this in a tough May 20 editorial headlined: "In the 2012 campaign, environmentalists don't matter."  It opens:

The buzz is heightening. The Sundance official selection documentary The Last Mountain is arriving at theaters across America beginning this weekend in Washington, DC, and New York City. Throughout June, it will open in 18 other cities, bringing this film -- on the frightening effects of destructive mountaintop removal mining-- to the biggest metropolitan markets in the nation.

Editor's Note: The following blog item, written by Earthjustice "Clean Air Ambassador" Alexandra Allred, first appeared on The White House blog. Allred's 11-year old sonTommy suffers from chronic asthma. Allred journeyed to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to advocate, for keeping and strengthening clean air protections, in the halls of Congress and to the Obama administration.

Jamestown, VA is a fixture of American history. Founded more than 400 years ago, it was the first permanent English settlement in what became the United States. Today, not far from there, The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is looking to make history of a different kind. It wants to build what would be the largest coal-fired power plant in all of Virginia. But if built, something new will settle in the region: a large cloud of harmful air pollution.

Nobody gets through a day without breathing. Not executives in the coal-fired power and cement industries, which are polluting our air daily. Not the legion of lobbyists they hire to patrol the halls of Congress in defense of dirty air. And not the members of Congress who, hand-in-hand with these special interests, are marching the Clean Air Act off a cliff.

At the very same time that these women and men draw breath, they are working to derail and delay clean air protections with a vigor that suggests there isn't a set of functioning lungs between them.

Shame on the Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday afternoon, the agency decided that it would postpone indefinitely a new health standard finalized a few months ago that would reduce toxic air pollution from industrial boilers. These small power plants are used at larger industrial facilities like oil refineries and chemical plants—more than 13,000 of them are in operation across the country.

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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.