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Seth Harris letter: Clean air protection rolled back by Bush

As reported in September, President Bush defended the most significant rollback of our clean air protections in the 33 year history of the Clean Air Act ("Bush defends more lenient industry pollution rules," The Forum, Sept. 16). Just think of it...

As reported in September, President Bush defended the most significant rollback of our clean air protections in the 33 year history of the Clean Air Act ("Bush defends more lenient industry pollution rules," The Forum, Sept. 16). Just think of it as an early Christmas for polluters, since the rule was simply a gift to them.

Actually the utility industry paid pretty handsomely for their gift. Between 2001-2002, the very companies charged with violating the law the Environmental Protection Agency just gutted, gave over $4.1 million to the Republicans, more than twice as much as they gave to Democrats. Under the new rules, activities such as those performed by the Ohio Edison company, which was just recently convicted on all counts of violating the old rules, would be perfectly legal. Not a high price to pay to avoid going to jail.

Bush spoke often about simplifying the rules, making them less difficult to enforce. When you make complying with the laws easier, yes, it is easier to enforce, but would we rather shorten our lives and sacrifice our good health to avoid a little extra work? Using EPA's own calculations, Clear the Air, a national campaign formed to clean up power plants, estimates the new rule will shorten the lives of 20,000 citizens every year, trigger 400,000 asthma attacks, and cause 12,000 cases of chronic bronchitis.

So I hope the power companies enjoy their gift, a gift for which we the public pay the bulk of the price and once again we receive naught but coal in our stockings.

Seth Harris

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