Losing our health — and dollars

Our congressman, Tom Garrett, has joined in with the rest of the Republicans in the House to pass HR 806 — a vote against clean air. Wow. It takes a certain kind of person to be in favor of smog and air pollution.

Since it was first put into law in 1970, the Clean Air Act has gradually been improving the air quality of this country. In spite of the increase in population, our air has actually been getting cleaner. There are fewer deaths attributable to bad air. We can see further and breathe deeper. Crops are healthier.

But we still have a way to go.

Air pollution still sends asthma sufferers to the hospital emergency rooms, keeps kids home from school, causes premature births, aggravates heart conditions and, yes, actually results in deaths.

My question to Mr. Garrett is this: what is his problem with requiring the industry that makes the mess to take steps to prevent it?

After all, the business is theirs, the profits are theirs . . . why should the costs of keeping these toxic substances out of our air belong to the rest of us? Why should we pay with our health?

If he doesn’t have a child with asthma who at times has a terrifying struggle to breathe (and there are about 25 million Americans with asthma), this might not seem like a big deal.

Maybe only cost considerations matter to Mr. Garrett and maybe he is only listening to industry complaining that clean-up will cost them money. Maybe he should also consider the costs that all of the rest of us have to bear — the costs of emergency room visits and of disability and early death, the costs of lost work days, and of crop damage (estimated at $500 million each year.)

The attorney general of California was one of many signing a letter to Congress against the bill.

And in that letter, the state predicted that passage of the bill delaying the continuing clean up of air pollution would cost that state alone up to $4.5 billion dollars by 2025. Four and a half billion dollars is a sizable amount of money for the people of California — imagine what that would be expanded to the rest of the country.

So even if human misery does not disturb Mr. Garrett, perhaps the thought of these billions of needlessly lost dollars will.

Linda Croxson
Sperryville

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