Clean Air: Thank you Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

It is with much enthusiasm that I read that President Obama is using the Clean Air Act, as enacted under President Nixon’s administration, to bolster the need for tougher protection of our environment, and to drastically cut down on coal plant emission of ozone.

The consequences of fossil fuels.

The consequences of fossil fuels.

It has been proven that ozone in the air is linked to asthma, heart disease, emphazima and early deaths.There is a great deal of evidence to show that ground level ozone from coal and other fossil fuels can harm lung function and irritate the respiratory system. Exposure to ozone and the pollutants that produce it is linked to premature death, asthma, bronchitis, heart attack, and other cardiopulmonary problems. Long-term exposure to ozone has been shown to increase risk of death from respiratory illness. A study done in 2009 (“Long Term Ozone Exposure and Mortality”) of 450,000 people living in United States cities showed a significant correlation between ozone levels and respiratory illness over the 18-year follow-up period. The study revealed that people living in cities with high ozone levels such as Houston or Los Angeles had an over 30% increased risk of dying from lung disease.

President Richard Nixon signing the Clean Air Act of 1970.

President Richard Nixon signing the Clean Air Act of 1970.

When President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act on December 31, 1970, he said: “On the last day of the year 1970, I think it would be appropriate to make a very few remarks with regard to this piece of legislation that I will now be signing, the clean air act of 1970.And I see in this room a few who were present in San Clemente on the first day of 1970 when I said that this would be the year of the environment, that it was now or never if we were to clean up the air and clean up the water in major parts of the United States and to provide the open spaces that are so important for the future generations in this country.”

He went on to say: “And I would only hope that as we go now from the year of the beginning, the year of proposing, the year 1970, to the year of action, 1971, that all of us, Democrats, Republicans, the House, the Senate, the executive branch, that all of us can look back upon this year as that time when we began to make a movement toward a goal that we all want, a goal that Theodore Roosevelt deeply believed in and a goal that he lived in his whole life. He loved the environment. He loved the clean air and the open spaces, and he loved the western part of the United States particularly, which will be greatly affected by this kind of action. And if, as we sign this bill in this room, we can look back and say, in the Roosevelt Room on the last day of 1970, we signed a historic piece of legislation that put us far down the road toward a goal that Theodore Roosevelt, 70 years ago, spoke eloquently about: a goal of clean air, clean water, and open spaces for the future generations of America.”

President Bush in 1990 signing  act amending Clean Air Act

President Bush in 1990 signing act amending Clean Air Act

On November 15, 1990 President Bush spoke similarly when he signed S. 1630 amending the Clean Air Act: “I take great pleasure in signing S. 1630 as a demonstration to the American people of my determination that each and every American shall breathe clean air”. Preisdent Bush did have issues with the bill, still signed it knowing that it was best for our nation.

It is interesting to note that, in 1970, the Clean Air Acts received overwhelming bipartisan support. It passed the U.S. Senate 73 to 0. It was championed by President Nixon and the then national leadership of our great nation. When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 to give the E.P.A. more authority to regulate, this too passed with strong bipartisan support. Senator McConnell, now the incoming Senate Leader, supported it. In 1990. He said: ” I had to choose between cleaner air and the status Quo. I chose cleaner air.”

Former Senator Al' D'Amato votes against lessening authority if E.P.A.

Former Senator Al’ D’Amato votes against lessening authority if E.P.A.

In 1997, Senator Alfonse D’Amato likened any lessening of the authority of the National E.P.A. to terrorism. In referring to pollutants crossing over from one state to another he said “We are sponsoring a form of pollution terrorism by allowing this (pollutants crossing the country uninhibited)to take place”.

What a change has occurred!

Now Mr. McConnell, collapsing to the coal industry, big business, the Tea Party, and those who do not believe in the deathly impact of global warming & pollution, is opposing the Clean Air Act enforcement and the actions by our President.  What has happened to the national bipartisan recognition of our responsibility to treat our land and air with with respect, for our own sakes?

Our planet is in trouble. Our nation is in trouble.

Putting politics before curbing pollution is not only unacceptable, it’s dangerous.


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