No More Dirty Air for Money

Industry complains of economic woes, Houstonians fear polluted air

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Concerned Houston citizen Rosalie Guerrero recently visited a young mother who lives near a facility pumping chemicals in the air. The mother had given birth to a baby with half a brain. The baby suffered for 6 months before dying.

“I’d like to see how much that life costs,” said Rosalie, testifying at a U.S. EPA hearing in Houston on the detrimental effects of living near facilities that emit lead, mercury and cadmium in the air. “There is a cost associated with that.”

Advocates for clean air testified alongside industry representatives at hearings in Houston and Los Angeles Tuesday regarding recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

I attended the Houston hearing and listened to industry reps waxing on about the economic impacts of these rules, while residents testified about the very real human cost of breathing polluting air.

Philip Huffeldt spent his childhood living in La Porte, Texas and had asthma so severe that he’d often be hooked to oxygen tanks. While there was no conclusive evidence that the asthma was a result of the incinerators he lived near, he believes the dirty air definitely was the cause. Upon moving away from La Porte, his symptoms lessened.

Chris Kevlin, with the Texas Campaign for the Environment, countered industry’s argument that the rules would lead to job losses.

“There hasn’t been an economic downturn that you can blame on environmental regulation,” he said.

The EPA will continue accepting comments until midnight, Aug. 3. Sign up for Earthjustice action alerts to stay posted on how you can speak out.

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.