the clean air act

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Marcus Scribner of ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ is taking action to protect the environment

I’m sometimes asked why I’m so passionate about environmentalism, and my answer is always pretty straightforward. As a Los Angeles native, clean air to breathe and water to drink are two things I don’t take for granted. I’m 17, but I grew up hearing the horror stories about what the city used to be like: Downtown Los Angeles smothered in a cloud of smog so toxic that students had to wear masks outdoors and drink water from wells contaminated with industrial pollution.

We still have a long way to go before everyone gets the clean water and air we deserve. But I’m proud of the progress my city has made. And that progress didn’t magically happen — it came, in part, because of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A lot of people, and young people in particular, might not know much about the EPA, so here’s quick history lesson: In 1970, President Richard Nixon – a Republican — signed into law legislation that established the EPA. Back then, there was overwhelming support to protect our environment (and considering just how awful environmental pollution was back then, it’s easy to see why.) Republicans and Democrats came together to pass some of the most ambitious environmental legislation ever. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, for example, are just two of the many important laws that EPA enforces to protect human health and the environment.

Today, many people my age might assume it was always like this: that clean air and water have always been seen as a right, essential for everyone. We never saw rivers literally on fire, because they were so full of highly flammable pollution. We never saw smog so thick it billowed over cities like a fog. That is what the United States was like when my mom and dad were kids.

Continuing the progress EPA is making to clean up our country is common sense. But you may have heard not everyone in Washington feels the same way. There are some elected representatives who claim that protecting the environment must come at the expense of prosperity.

But this could not be further from the truth. There are now more Americans employed in the solar industry than there are in the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined — and in 41 states plus Washington, D.C., clean jobs outnumber those in the fossil fuel industry. The clean energy revolution will continue and its benefits will be felt beyond those who are securing jobs.

But President Donald Trump is following through on his pledge to reverse much of the progress made under President Barack Obama. Through executive orders, the Trump administration has started to dismantle many protections that are designed to cut dangerous emissions from power plants, cars and trucks and the oil and gas sector.

To make matters worse, Trump also proposed to eliminate the EPA office responsible for coordinating environmental justice programs in its entirety. Vulnerable communities from Flint, Michigan, to Spartanburg, South Carolina, have much to lose if these unconscionable cuts become reality. Mustafa Ali, who recently resigned as head of EPA’s Environmental Justice office, said it best: that to protect public health and the environment is to “make the American dream a reality for all.”

I know many young people question whether they can have an impact on the direction of our country. Believe me, I understand as well. But I know that even in these uncertain times, we can rise up and make our voices heard to our elected leaders. With the March on Science and the People’s Climate March happening on consecutive Saturdays, young people around the world are letting us know that they want to be heard.

It’s a personal mission of mine to make sure the old days never come back — it’s why I work with Defend Our Future, a campaign empowering millennials to take action to protect the environment. Defend Our Future is making it as easy as possible for you to get in touch with your elected representatives. Please take a few minutes to send your senators and representatives a message. Let them know that you want them to protect EPA and our health. Even though I can’t vote yet, I have already reached out to my local representatives, and encourage you to do so as well, because together, we can and must defend our future.

— Marcus Scribner. Marcus Scribner plays Andre Jr. on ABC’s “blackish.” He is an honor student and has been honored with the Peabody Award, multiple NAACP Image Awards and several Emmy nominations.

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Science, it’s worth remembering, doesn’t read your Tweets. It doesn’t care about the size of your Electoral College victory.
—  Jeffrey Kluger in Time Magazine, “Why Trump Will Lose His War on Science.” Read it here. 
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December 5th 1952: Great Smog of London begins

On this day in 1952, the Great Smog descended on London, beginning a national crisis which lasted for four days. Following the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late eighteenth century, London saw a sharp rise in polluted, smoky fog (known as smog) due to toxic coal fumes emitted by factories. Smog, unlike fog, is often thick, discoloured, and foul-smelling, and several smogs affected London throughout the nineteenth century. December 1952 was bitterly cold, and as Londoners burned large amounts of coal to keep warm, the smoke joined with toxic fumes from factories. The smoke was trapped by an anticyclone in the region, and, unable to disperse, combined with fog to create a smog. The thick smog caused chaos in London, with traffic halted by poor visibility of a few metres, opportunists committing crime, and the poisonous air filling hospitals with people suffering from breathing problems. Around 4,000 people, plus numerous animals and livestock, are known to have died as a result of the fog, though recent estimates taking into account long-term damage are much higher at 12,000. The smog was London’s worst civilian disaster, producing more casualties than any single incident during the Second World War and the Blitz. To prevent future disasters, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956 which tried to limit smoke emissions. Innovations in technology and environmental legislation ensured that no such smog has ever occurred again, but invisible pollution remains a grave concern for modern cities.

(see: metoffice.gov.uk, historytoday.com)

Via the Alt National Park Service

Important Public Alert:
Have you heard of the Regulatory Accountability Act H.R.5? Congress is moving forward with this sweeping legislation that could undercut major laws that keep our food, water, workers and children’s products safe. Yet, little attention has been paid to the Regulatory Accountability Act which would fundamentally alter how Americans protect themselves from unsafe pollution, chemicals, drugs and other dangers—by undermining the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety, and Health Act and a slew of other laws affecting public health and safety. Rather than repealing these popular laws, the bill would simply hobble them by, in effect, preventing agencies from creating or enforcing rules under such laws. The sound-bite description of the bill makes the Regulatory Accountability Act sound “reasonable”: Cut red tape and reduce government regulation. In reality, it would tie federal agencies in knots.

My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.
—  The lying asshole who put climate change skeptics/deniers in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of the Interior; repealed the Stream Protection Rule; removed funding for the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Air Act, the Green Climate Fund, and the EPA itself; revived the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines; and whose administration is rolling back regulations on methane emissions and vehicle pollution standards and is “reconsidering” the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards and the Clean Water Act
Sometimes Regulations Help

Here are some old photos from Time showing massive pollution in decades past.  Regulations and legislation like the Clean Water Act can help protect our lands, maximize our available resources, and allow us to enjoy them fully.

Cleveland, 1968

The Cuyahoga River, which was so polluted that it ignited into flames in 1957 and later in 1969

The Detroit River, 1968

This waterfall contains taconite tailings from a Minnesotan mining plant that descended into Lake Superior at the rate of 20 million tons per year.

Pulp waste from Hammermill Paper makes up the white mess seeping into Lake Erie above.

A closed beach in Whiting, Indiana.  The beach was closed because the city only had one sewer system for human waste and storm water. 

“Dangerous” levels of septic tank pollution did not prompt the state of Michigan from prohibiting its residents from using this beach.

Millions of tons of raw sewage from the U.S. side of the Niagara Falls drained into this water that would empty…into the Canadian side.

This is a full-fledged environmental emergency, and we have a person who’s not just a climate denier, but a professional climate denier. This is going to be a litmus test for every member of the Senate who claims not to be a denier.
—  Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, on Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as EPA head. Learn more. 
This is the third time that the Government have lost in the courts on the issue of air quality - Sue Hayman

Responding to the Government losing its court bid to delay publication of its air quality plan, Sue Hayman MP Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:

“Labour welcome the High Court decision today.

“This is the third time that the Government have lost in the courts on the issue of air quality. They must now publish their air quality plan without further delay.

“A Labour government would bring forward a new Clean Air Act, setting out how we would tackle air pollution that NHS experts say contributes to 40,000 premature deaths every year. 

“While the Conservatives shirk responsibility, Labour will deal with the dirty air damaging the lives of millions of British people.”

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May 28th 1892: Sierra Club founded

On this day in 1892, John Muir founded the famous environmental organisation - the Sierra Club - in San Francisco, California. Muir was a notable conservationist and preservationist and became the Club’s first president. The Sierra Club worked to establish and protect federal national parks, most famously Yosemite National Park. Their cause received a boost during the Progressive Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency (1901-1909), who was a naturalist like Muir. Some of the Club’s most notable successes since 1892 came during Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programme, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Sierra Club continues to be an influential group in the United States as one of the largest pressure groups in the nation. It has a significant influence over environmental issues and dedicates itself to tackling climate change and damage to the environment, most recently protesting against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Trump’s energy plan could have devastating — and irreversible — effects

President-elect Donald Trump intends on dismantling many of the environmental protections Obama instituted and supported, according to documents from Trump’s transition team obtained by the Associated Press. The documents point to a repeal of the 1970 Clean Air Act and Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Repealing this could have devastating implications worldwide.

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While the Conservatives shirk responsibility, Labour will deal with the dirty air damaging the lives of millions of British people - Hayman

Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ahead of the High Court consideration of the government’s request to further delay publication of their air quality plan, said:

“If the government fails to publish its plan to deal with the chronic levels of air pollution today then Labour will, within the first 30 days of our administration.

“Labour will bring forward a new Clean Air Act, setting out how we would tackle air pollution that NHS experts say contributes to 40,000 premature deaths every year. 

“With nearly 40 million people in the UK living in areas with illegal levels of air pollution, it is simply not acceptable for ministers to hide behind the general election to delay publishing plans to improve air quality.

“Purdah rules exist to stop one party using the machinery of government for their  electoral advantage, not to be used as an excuse to delay acting on vital public health matters. We trust that the court will recognise this.

“While the Conservatives shirk responsibility, Labour will deal with the dirty air damaging the lives of millions of British people.”

Text ‘resist’ to 50409 and then copy and paste the following when it prompts you:

I am deeply concerned about the progress of the Regulatory Accountability Act HR5. According to environmental and public safety groups, it undermines the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, among others. This proposed legislation will hobble these protections by making it harder to create and enforce protective laws. HR5 is a shameful attack on public health and safety. The American people deserve to know our resources are safe to use and our environment safe to live in. Please oppose this bill’s progress in any way you can. Thank you.

Lambeth schoolchildren in pollution hotspot write to Theresa May pleading for clean air

South London schoolchildren have written to political leaders urging them to publish a clean-air act following the election.

The 14 children who wrote to the government, aged between six and 13, also invited Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron to meet them and sign a pledge to tackle air pollution.

Pupils at Archbishop Sumner primary school in Lambeth will be among other London schoolchildren in the capital partaking in a Carnival for Clean Air on Monday evening.

The event aims to highlight pollution from diesel vehicles on roads including Kennington Lane, which is on the border of the congestion charge zone and used by about 45,000 vehicles every day.

Adam Matthews, chairman of governors at the Lambeth primary school, told the Standard: “Children are politely asking the leaders of all the main political parties if they can spare ten minutes to commit to publish a new Clean Air Act within the first 100 days of an election.

“Children don’t have a vote but the party leaders policies and commitments, or lack of them, will directly impact their health. In particular their lung development.

“That is why they have today launched a children’s clean air pledge. As a parent and a chair of governors of two schools in an area with roads being used by over 45,000 vehicles a day I am deeply worried about air pollution.

Mr Matthews added: “Not enough has been done and this needs the attention of the leaders of political parties at this election.”

On their walking routes, children will use pollution monitors to measure levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide from diesel engines.

Schools in the Lambeth area are giving advice to parents on using face masks to protect themselves and their children from damaging levels of pollution.

According to analysis of government data by Greenpeace, more than 2,000 schools, nurseries, further education centres and after-school clubs in the UK are within 150 metres of a road emitting illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Research shows that children living in areas with high pollution were more likely to have reduced lung function as adults.

Children with underlying chronic lung diseases, particularly asthma and cystic fibrosis, were especially vulnerable, according to the World Health Organisation.

Let me list for you a few of the “Democratic Socialist” contributions to our nation:
  •     Medicare
  •     Medicaid
  •     Medicare Part D medications
  •     Social security
  •     Child Labor laws
  •     40 hour work week
  •     Overtime pay
  •     Family leave
  •     Bankruptcy forgiveness of debts,
  •     Labor unions
  •     Workplace safety
  •     Public fire departments
  •     Public police departments
  •     The national parks
  •     Wildlife preserves
  •     Clean air act
  •     Clean water act
  •     Anti pollution laws
  •     Public education through grade 12,
  •     Public water works
  •     Public utilities for gas and electric power,
  •     Public sewer system,
  •     Public transportation trains and subways,
  •     Postal service,
  •    Safe food standards
  •    Safe Prescription Drugs
  •    Construction building codes,
  •    Hydro electric dams and power stations,
  •    Interstate highway system,
  •    The Affordable Care Act
  •     And countless more…

Our economy is a marriage of both regulated free enterprise and public enterprise. Where free enterprise offers the individual opportunity and public enterprise provides a base of services that make our lives better, safer, convenient and in many ways makes our lifestyle possible.

ES Views: Court forces Government to act now on pollution

I welcome the High Court’s decision to throw out the Government’s feeble attempt to delay publishing proper plans to tackle our toxic air pollution until after the election [Online, April 27].

New research shows just how lethal vehicle emissions are: pollution nanoparticles enter directly into the bloodstream from the lungs and these contribute to the deaths of more than 9,000 Londoners a year.

Most of our air pollution comes from diesel vehicles and the Government needs to get going with a diesel scrappage scheme, as the Mayor has been pushing for.

The Government urgently needs to produce a new Clean Air Act that should give the Mayor additional powers to act decisively for Londoners and protect our health.
Caroline Russell, London Assembly Green Party Group

Last week (Monday April 24) there was an astonishing admission from Andrea Leadsom MP in the House of Commons about delaying Defra’s application of its plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide, something many — including the EU — had been waiting several years for.

Ministers are now also accused of bullying judges over delaying curbs on toxic air [April 26]. So we have the Government delaying putting a plan into place despite legal action being taken against it twice before. It was meant to have been lodged with the Supreme Court on Monday but the Government appealed for a postponement until after the election, when these plans should have been in place in 2010.

Our knowledge of the adverse impact air pollution has on our lives — particularly on the young, old and vulnerable — has increased substantially and a seven-year delay in responding to the requirements of having a NO2 plan is not good enough.

The Government’s abandonment of its responsibilities and lack of action has ensured it will become a major issue in the general election.
Murad Qureshi

It is excellent news that the Government must now release its air pollution plans before the general election in June.

It would be better still, however, to have an explanation as to why, at the final Department for Transport meeting last Friday, assurances were given that environmental issues relating to a third Heathrow runway were well in hand when, at the same time, Defra was at the High Court seeking to delay publication of this important document.

It is also essential for all parties to note that there will be little time for responders to the current Airports Expansion consultation to absorb the details of the new publication before the deadline for comments on May 25.
Rev Andrew McLuskey


Hounslow Heath is under threat

It was heartwarming to read that Sir David Attenborough is urging us to protect Richmond Park, not just for today but for the benefit of future generations [“(Park) Life on earth”, April 26]. The support given to Sir David in your editorial gives hope that this might be achieved.

Unfortunately, another iconic landscape is under serious threat as the Planning Inspectorate has recently rejected Hounslow council’s objection to the development of an adventure theme park on Hounslow Heath, an area of outstanding natural beauty and varied wildlife. At least 132 species of birds, 330 types of plant life and a diverse range of insects and animals, many very rare, can be found there.

Residents will doubtless be re-igniting a campaign to save the Heath but it would be encouraging to know that influential figures such as Sir David could support this worthy cause. In Hounslow, as in Richmond, it is surely vitally important that our heritage is cherished and protected.

Once our heritage is lost, it is lost for ever. We must not allow that to happen.
Pete Harding

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Nurses’ low pay is damaging for all

When the Government gave nursing staff another real-terms pay cut this month, the Royal College of Nursing asked all 270,000 of its members in a poll how they wanted to respond.

They are beyond disappointed by six years of real-term pay cuts. Over the same period, pressure in hospital and community nursing reached unprecedented levels, meaning they are working harder than ever. In the online poll they have a chance to vote to take strike action or refuse to work unpaid overtime.

With the upcoming general election, there is no better time to hold politicians to account for their decisions. The one per cent pay cap for nursing staff is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS that is as damaging for patient care as it is for nurses themselves.

Nurses are not taking this action lightly and the wellbeing of patients will always be top priority. However, too many nurses are struggling to make ends meet and they should not have to cover the NHS deficit from their own pay packet.
Cynthia Davis, board chair, Royal College of Nursing


EU nations have an agenda too

Theresa May’s complaint that the EU’s 27 nations are “ganging up” against Britain ready for the Brexit negotiations is either shamefully ignorant or cynical rabble-rousing. What did the Government expect when pressing the Brexit button?

The UK’s exit terms are importantly, though not exclusively, a trade issue; negotiating a new bilateral trade deal will be wholly about trade. In negotiations, the EU member states are required to negotiate according to a common position that has been settled through clearly prescribed processes, and with the European Commission speaking with a single voice on behalf of all. Legally, this is what the EU-27 will have to do in the Brexit negotiations.

Rather than stamping their feet and shouting, British politicians would do much better to recognise that, as in any other negotiations, the other side also has legitimate views, pressures and objectives that have to be recognised and taken into account.
Michael Johnson

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TV to blame for less exciting title race

Most football fans would agree with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte that playing the last three games of the season at the same time would be the best ending for the title race. Unfortunately, managers often forget that TV companies control the timing of fixtures and it is in their interest to stagger Chelsea and Tottenham’s games as the title race reaches its final stages to achieve maximum viewing figures.

As we saw with Manchester City’s Premier League triumph in 2012, when matches are played simultaneously it certainly increases the tension and excitement, as well as eradicating any opportunity for match-fixing.

While I have no doubt we will be treated to some fascinating action, we won’t have the same experience this season — and it is the TV chiefs who are to blame.
Gary Hardman

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