Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is spearheading an egregious effort in the Senate to exempt the nation’s worst air polluters from the Clean Air Act. He is floating a resolution that would block recently finalized limits on the amounts of mercury, arsenic and other health-damaging pollutants that coal- and oil-fired power plants can emit. It’s up for a vote on Wednesday.
Today, thankfully, the White House indicated that it will veto Inhofe’s dirty air disaster if it manages to pass the Senate.
The senator, shockingly, has described the benefits of these landmark protections as "negligible." But there’s nothing negligible about the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,600 heart attacks and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.
The technology to prevent these negative health impacts isn’t futuristic—it exists today, and some companies have actually taken responsibility for their dirty emissions by installing it. But on the whole, the dirty power industry has flexed its political muscle for the better part of two decades in ongoing attempts to avoid cleaning up. Hopefully, this is a final twitch in this saga, in which tens of thousands of people have already been sickened and killed.
The White House’s announcement is welcome news for all the communities in the shadow of a smokestack.