On May 2, 2011, doctors, nurses, faith and tribal leaders, social justice advocates and affected citizens from all 50 states convened in Washington, D.C. to send a powerful message: All Americans have a right to breathe clean, healthy air.
These Clean Air Ambassadors met with members of Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Obama administration to speak out for strong protections against pollution that is harmful to all our health.
Watch the video introducing some of the ambassadors, and then listen to all their stories in a multimedia gallery.
The Environmental Protection Agency has released standards that will clean up toxic air emissions from power plants across the nation, thanks in no small part to years of Earthjustice attorney James Pew's determined litigation on behalf of community, environmental and public health groups.
Coal plants are far and away the nation's worst toxic polluters. Every year, the pollution causes exacerbated asthma, heart problems, hospital visits—and premature death, especially among vulnerable populations like children, the elderly and people with asthma.
Earthjustice, Clean Air Task Force and the American Lung Association released the report Sick of Soot in November 2011. The report summarizes the findings of a technical report showing that nearly 36,000 premature deaths could be prevented in the U.S. every year if the Environmental Protection Agency strengthens the health standards for soot pollution.
Read Sick of Soot to learn about fine particulate matter and how both short- and long-term exposure is dangerous to public health.
Clean air should be a fundamental right. Every year, many Americans young and old get sick because of air pollution. Thousands die. But our bodies don't have to be the dumping ground for dirty industries.
Our lives and health depend on clean air—the Clean Air Act's health protections saved the lives of 160,000 people last year. But it turns out that clean air is a sound economic investment, too. The Environmental Protection Agency recently completed a study that estimates direct benefits from amendments made to the Clean Air Act in 1990—the ones that require toxic polluters like cement kilns and coal plants to limit their dangerous emissions—will reach nearly $2 trillion in the year 2020. That amounts to more than 30 times the costs of implementing clean air protections.
Moreover, studies have shown that improving air quality is an engine of economic growth. A study from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, for example, found that cleaning up air pollution from coal-fired power plants could create 290,000 jobs on average in each of the next five years. No matter how you look at it, clean air makes a whole lot of sense.
Is The Air Clean Enough For You And Your Family?
[ U.S. Residents Only ] A large majority of Americans want and expect the EPA to protect them from dirty air. They are saying that everybody has a right to breathe clean air. Will you ask your members of Congress to join us in making the Clean Air Promise?
The Right To Breathe Declaration
Clean air should be a fundamental right. Every year, many people young and old get sick because of air pollution. Thousands die. Raise your voice to demand immediate action, because everyone has the right to breathe.
When Polluters Lose, Clean Air Should Win
There should be no more delay in cleaning up dirty industries. Please take a moment to write President Obama and tell him that protecting clean air standards and moving toward a clean energy future are important to you!