Health Professionals Speak Out for Clean Air Act

Latest Vote Yesterday in US House Blocks Toxic Mercury Protections


Deliving inhalers to Erik Paulsen

In the last two weeks, House Republicans have led two assaults on public health. The first assault was the TRAIN Act, which you can read about here. The latest attack was a vote yesterday to prevent the EPA from safeguarding families from toxic mercury pollution from cement factories. Next week, we expect the House to vote on a similar bill to block toxic mercury protections for industrial boilers next week.

Minnesotans are fighting back. Earlier this week, Environment Minnesota and Sierra Club dropped off inhalers at Erik Paulsen’s office representing multitude of inhalers that Minnesotans go through every year because of asthma attacks that are triggered by air pollution.

Health professionals from across Minnesota spoke out on Friday. Over 60 health professionals sent a letter to the Minnesota Congressional delegations calling for Congress to uphold the Clean Air Act and to reject any measure that would block or delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from doing its job to protect all Americans from life-threatening air pollution.

On a conference call, the Minnesotans discussed their support of the EPA health safeguards like the proposed power plant mercury rule. All speakers have had personal experiences with air quality and health issues brought on my pollutants.

The panel shared their personal experiences with Minnesotans health issues caused by air pollution. Duluth physician, Dr. Ann Doberstein began, “I have been around long enough to actually witness the improvements in air and water quality that have been made by the EPA and other environmental organizations. I still treat patients with respiratory ailments directly related to air pollutants.”

On Thursday, The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation, H.R. 2681, that would block critical protections against toxic mercury emitted by cement plants. The chamber is expected to vote on a similar bill to block toxic mercury protections for industrial boilers next week. Cement plants and industrial boilers are among the nation’s biggest and dirtiest sources of mercury pollution.

During Friday’s telephone press conference the panel discussed health concerns related to deadly pollution to ensure Minnesotans are aware what is being gambled by the Cantor agenda in Congress. Many Minnesotan suffer from ailments brought on by air pollution with youth, elderly, and sick Minnesotans suffering the worst.

Mary Wallace, a native to Minneapolis, suffers from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal progressive scarring of the lung tissue with no cure. Over the past years Mary has noticed that air quality has a large effect on her condition and often times impedes her ability to go outside. After living in Southern Oregon for a year Mary has moved back to Southern Minneapolis due to air pollutants in Oregon making it impossible for her to enjoy the outdoors.

Big polluters are fighting hard to prevent the EPA from doing its job, a job they have done for more than 40 years. The EPA has a solid record of cleaning up our air and water and Congress should not interfere with its vital work. In just the first 20 years of existence, the EPA saved more than 200,000 lives and prevented millions of asthma attacks, heart problems and other serious illnesses by enforcing the Clean Air Act. That amounts to health savings of $22 trillion. Now some in Congress want to curtail or even eliminate EPA’s authority to protect our air and water from toxic mercury pollution and deadly smog.

“House Leadership claims that the costs of the basic pollution protections that have served Americans for four decades are too high, but their actions today will not create more jobs or economic growth. Instead, it will mean more children in the hospital, harder times for families trying to make ends meet and billions of dollars in health bills for American taxpayers,” Joshua Low, Organizing Representative from the Sierra Club said on Friday.

Minnesotans from all walks of life are getting involved in the campaign to save the Clean Air Act. Health professionals are the latest group. Students and Sierra Club members are going to be talking to their Representatives in the coming weeks. To get involved, email Joshua Low.


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