Tag Archives: EPA

Music 🎵🇺🇸 to our ears!

McGovern Profile Photo 1ab(1)
Congressman Jim McGovern

From Jim’s office:

McGovern: Republican EPA Bill is a Giveaway to Corporate Polluters

McGovern Slams GOP for Putting Profits Ahead of Public Health

Today U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern led debate for House Democrats on the House floor against the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, a bill from House Republicans that limits the participation of scientific experts at the EPA, and would lead to a disproportionate representation of big business and corporate special interests.

Below are excerpts of today’s remarks:

HOUSE GOP IGNORES REAL ISSUES

“Today we are considering a piece of legislation that seeks to prevent the EPA from protecting public health and the environment. This bill was brought [up] in an emergency meeting last night. I think the American people have a pretty good idea of what is and what isn’t an emergency.

“We have no shortage of actual emergencies that we should be dealing with – a devastating opioid epidemic, crumbling roads and bridges, mounting evidence of Russian meddling in our election, and people being killed every day due to gun violence, not to mention Flint, Michigan is still dealing with the residual health effects of toxically-polluted water. These are just a few examples of actual emergencies that Congress is doing nothing to address.”

“As we learned last week, the American people are paying attention to what we do here. They are smart enough to know what an emergency is. And this bill isn’t addressing an emergency. it’s creating one!”

GOP BILL ATTACKS SCIENCE, HELPS POLLUTERS

“The Science Advisory Board at the EPA provides a way for the agency to use sound, independent, and objective scientific data to help make their decisions. “This bill limits the participation of scientific experts at the EPA, leading to a disproportionate representation of big business and corporate special interests. Are these really the people we want making decisions about the health of our kids and the policies that should be protecting our environment?

“There’s nothing scientific about corruption and that’s exactly what this bill will open the door to.

“This bill is about allowing the Republicans’ big corporate cronies a direct route to the decision-makers at the EPA. It’s about disrupting the EPA’s ability to fairly enforce the rules, hold corporate polluters accountable, and protect our health. It’s about undermining scientific fact with political cronyism.

“Americans can’t afford to have the EPA run by people who live in a fantasy land where facts and science don’t matter. Our environment and the health of our families is too important. This bill defies logic, it defies reason. It will hurt the people who sent us here and it will help polluters. Republicans are putting corporate greed ahead of public health and the American people will be the ones who will suffer. Americans deserve better. We should be fighting for them.”

FIRST GRADE SCIENCE LESSON FOR GOP

“Let me tell my Republican friends what I tell first graders that I visit back in my district in Massachusetts. Science is important. It’s a big deal.

“Scientists tell us things that are really important, like climate change is caused by greenhouse gases, something my Republican friends continually deny. They tell us that polluted air can give children asthma. They tell us that lead in children’s drinking water causes learning problems. They tell us pesticide exposure can cause cancer. These are important things.

“You know, the first graders I speak to, they get it. They understand the importance of science. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in this chamber do not. I would bet that those first graders understand the importance that it is scientists that sit on scientific advisory boards and not corporate cronies.”

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Floor Speech:

“ I rise in strong opposition to this rule and the underlying legislation. This is the 23rd closed rule of this short new Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans have been denied the opportunity to amend nearly 60 percent of the legislation that has been brought to the Floor through the Rules Committee. This effort by Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership to halt a fair and open debate in the People’s House is outrageous. We’re supposed to be a deliberative body – where both parties get to deliberate. These Putin-esque rules – that shut down all debate – need to stop. This isn’t the Kremlin.

“I think Representative Rooney – a Republican – said it best last week. Quote, “I’ve been in this job eight years, and I’m wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening,’

“Well, today we are considering a piece of legislation that seeks to prevent the EPA from protecting public health and the environment. Not exactly positive. This bill was brought to the Rules Committee in an emergency meeting last night. Let me emphasize that – an emergency meeting.

“I think the American people have a pretty good idea of what is and what isn’t an emergency. A tree falls on your house? That’s an emergency. Your rose bush needs pruning? Not an emergency. Timmy fell down a well? That’s an emergency. Timmy might stub his toe? Not an emergency. On April 28th, the government will run out of money. That’s an emergency, even if it is self-inflicted by the Republicans.

“And we have no shortage of other ACTUAL emergencies that we should be dealing with – a devastating opioid epidemic, crumbling roads and bridges, mounting evidence of Russian meddling in our election, and people being killed every day due to gun violence, not to mention Flint, Michigan is still dealing with the residual health effects of toxically-polluted water. These are just a few examples of actual emergencies that Congress is doing NOTHING to address.

“Instead, the underlying bill — the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act — was brought to the Rules Committee and to the House floor as emergency legislation. As we learned last week, the American people are paying attention to what we do here. They are smart enough to know what an emergency is. And this bill isn’t addressing an emergency. it’s creating one!

“The Science Advisory Board at the EPA provides a way for the agency to use sound, independent, and objective scientific data to help make their decisions. Science, you may have heard of it. It’s kind of a big deal.

“But this bill won’t help the EPA to include more scientists in their decisions – it will force them to include people with potential financial conflicts of interest on the Science Advisory Board, so long as they disclose them. Do we really want people on our advisory boards if they could profit from a decision they are about to make? There’s nothing scientific about corruption and that’s exactly what this bill will open the door to.

“This bill also limits the participation of scientific experts at the EPA, leading to a disproportionate representation of big business and corporate special interests. Are these really the people we want making decisions about the health of our kids and the policies that should be protecting our environment? Is that what we want?

“So what is this bill really about? It’s about allowing the Republican’s big corporate cronies a direct route to the decision-makers at the EPA. It’s about disrupting the EPA’s ability to fairly enforce the rules, hold corporate polluters accountable, and protect our health. It’s about undermining scientific fact with political cronyism. Maybe things have changed lately – it’s been a while since my last science class – but I’m pretty sure there’s no step in the scientific method that says “consult corporate cronies.”

“The truth is that this Republican majority wants the EPA to base their decisions on fiction, not fact. Americans can’t afford to have the EPA run by people who live in a fantasy land where facts and science don’t matter. Our environment and the health of our families is too important. This law is going to have real life consequences. It will undermine science, hurt the environment, and help polluters.

“We need to allow the EPA to make decisions based on fact. We need to ensure the EPA is always free from financial conflicts – not making decisions based on panels filled with industry insiders like the ones this bill would create.

“This bill defies logic, it defies reason, and it defies sanity. It will hurt the people who sent us here and it will help polluters. Republicans are putting corporate greed ahead of public health and the American people will be the ones who will suffer. Americans deserve better. We should be fighting for them.

“Let me tell my Republican friends what I tell first graders that I visit back in my district in Massachusetts when I go to visit their schools. I usually begin by telling them that science is important. It’s a big deal. And it’s such a big deal that all our schools teach it. And if you do your homework, and you study hard, and you pay attention, you might grow up someday to become a scientist.

“Scientists are people who dedicate their lives to protect the health and well-being of all over the world. And they dedicate their lives to protect our planet. Scientists tell us things that are really important, like climate change is caused by greenhouse gases, something my Republican friends continually deny. They tell us that polluted air can give children asthma. They tell us that lead in children’s drinking water causes learning problems. They tell us pesticide exposure can cause cancer. These are important things.

“And we all learned in school, thanks to science, that the Earth orbits around the sun. That gravity causes this pen to fall when I drop it. That plants turn sunshine into energy. That dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago.

“You know, the first graders I speak to, they get it. They understand the importance of science. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in this chamber do not. I would bet that those first graders understand the importance that it is scientists that sit on scientific advisory boards and not corporate cronies.”

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Steve parked in Rose’s space … TRUMP DEFICITS WILL BANKRUPT AMERICA

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Cece, you can’t hide from the fact Trump is President – at least until his treasonous ties to Russia are fleshed out.   pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

President Donald J. Trump has received plaudits from conservative pundits for his February 28 address to Congress. Polling the day after shows the speech was well received by an extremely wary American public.

Why? Because Trump got through one speech without it deteriorating into a public relationships disaster. He didn’t ask the Republican Congressmen to sucker punch the Democrats sitting in the Capitol, as he asked supporters to do to dissenters at his campaign rallies. Trump controlled his emotions, and didn’t descend into a manic diatribe of rantings and ravings about his opponents. He spent the last several months launching personal attacks on Congressional Democrats, especially Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But Trump had the nerve to ask the Democrats and Schumer to work with him, and compromise their deeply held beliefs.

Trump, of course, did not offer to compromise his beliefs. He didn’t offer not to build the wall on the Mexican border, if the Democrats agreed to other Trump border security proposals. He didn’t offer to not bankrupt the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in exchange for a military build-up. The only people Trump sees as having to compromise are the fools who don’t agree with him.

What he didn’t say

What Trump didn’t say was more important than what he did talk about. The biggest problem facing America isn’t Obamacare, which obviously needs to be reformed. America right now spends more on its military than the next seven top military spenders in the world combined. A military buildup isn’t necessary when NATO dependents are kicking in more money, as Trump claimed to Congress.

The biggest problem facing America right now is balancing the budget and saving Social Security and Medicare for the next generation.

During the campaign, Trump talked of America’s $22 trillion national debt in apocalyptic terms. He said another $2 trillion in deficits will put America beyond the point of no return. Trump is willing to rack up more debt for his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan alone. And how does Trump intend to pay for the trillions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don’t need the money?

What Trump is proposing has already been tried by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. One can excuse Reagan on the grounds that the country was mired in dire straits, the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War, and Americans had lost faith in their country. Reagan also agreed to raise taxes to reduce the deficits in his first term, a magnanimous flexibility Trump is totally unprepared to replicate.

George W. Bush in 2001 inherited an America at peace with a balanced budget. In a tremendous act of stupidity, Bush destroyed the budget surpluses with idiotic tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq.

And where was the Tea Party while this was going on? Totally silent. They didn’t care about the trillions of dollars in deficits Bush ran up. Only when Obama ran up deficits to save the country from going into a depression, did they suddenly discover deficits would hurt the country. Where is the Tea Party now? Noticeably silent as Trump prepares to add trillions to the national debt. These people were phonies all along.

Trump, having been elected without being the hostage of special interests, was in a unique position to take the politically unpopular steps to return America to budgetary surpluses: raising taxes and cutting spending. This writer was impressed by Trump’s saving the taxpayers $700 million on an airplane contract. This is where Trump could have done his best work, saving taxpayers’ money on inflated contracts and corrupt vendors.

Instead, Trump is taking America down the same sorry road of W. Bush. When countries like China and Japan stop buying American bonds, the bondholders will eventually cut off the money flow, and then this country will be facing problems we can only imagine.

This writer is not taking a scintilla of comfort from the fact that Trump finally got through a speech without making a total fool of himself.

From filmmaker Michael Moore … on his hometown’s lead-ridden drinking water

I wrote a letter calling for the arrest of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for poisoning the people of Flint, Michigan …

Dear Governor Snyder:

Thanks to you, sir, and the premeditated actions of your administrators, you have effectively poisoned, not just some, but apparently ALL of the children in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

And for that, you have to go to jail.

To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.

But you did. Your staff and others knew that the water in the Flint River was poison — but you decided that taking over the city and “cutting costs” to “balance the budget” was more important than the people’s health (not to mention their democratic rights to elect their own leaders).

So you cut off the clean, fresh glacial lake water of Lake Huron that the citizens of Flint (including myself) had been drinking for decades and, instead, made them drink water from the industrial cesspool we call the Flint River — a body of “water” where toxins from a dozen General Motors and DuPont factories have been dumped for over a hundred years.

And then you decided to put a chemical in this water to “clean” it — which only ended up stripping the lead off of Flint’s aging water pipes, placing that lead in the water and sending it straight into people’s taps.

Your callous — and reckless (btw, “reckless” doesn’t get you a pass; a reckless driver who kills a child, still goes to jail) — decision to do this has now, as revealed by the city’s top medical facility, caused “irreversible brain damage” in Flint’s children, not to mention other bodily damage to all of Flint’s adults.

Here’s how bad it is: Even GM won’t let the auto parts they use in building cars touch the Flint water because that water “corrodes” them.

This is a company that won’t even fix an ignition switch after they’ve discovered it’s already killed dozens of people. THAT’s how bad the situation is. Even GM thinks you’re the devil.

Maybe you don’t understand the science behind this. Lead, in water — now, bear with me, this involves a science lesson and you belong to the anti-science party, the one that believes there’s not a climate problem and that Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. Lead is toxic to the human body. There’s no way to fully eliminate it once it’s in your system, and children are the most damaged by it.

By taking away the city’s clean drinking water in order to “cut costs,” and then switching the city’s water supply to Flint River water, you have allowed massively unsafe levels of pollutants and lead into the water that travels in to everyone’s home.

Every Flint resident is trapped by this environmental nightmare which you, Governor, have created.

Like any real criminal, when you were confronted with the truth (by the EPA and other leading water experts across America), you denied what you did.

Even worse, you decided to mock your accusers and their findings. As I said, I know you don’t like to believe in a lot of science (after all, you used to run Gateway Computers, and that, really, is all anyone needs to know about you), but this time the science has caught up with you — and this time, I hope, it’s going to convict you.

The facts are all there, Mr. Snyder. Every agency involved in this scheme reported directly to you. The children of Flint didn’t have a choice as to whether or not they were going to get to drink clean water. But soon it will be your turn to not have that choice about which water you’ll be drinking. Because by this time next year, if there is an ounce of justice left in this land, the water you’ll be drinking will be served to you from a tap inside Jackson Prison.

I am calling upon my fellow Michiganders — and seekers of justice everywhere — to petition U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to arrest you for corruption and assault (i.e., the physical assault you committed against the children of Flint when you knowingly poisoned them).

Yesterday, the federal prosecutor in Flint, after many of us had called for months for this action, finally opened up an investigation into the matter. Now we need your arrest, prosecution and conviction.

And who will be cheering on that day when you are fitted with a bright orange jumpsuit? The poor and minority communities of Michigan who’ve endured your dictatorial firing of their mayors and school boards so you could place your business friends in charge of their mostly-black cities. They know you never would have done this to a wealthy white suburb.

I welcome all to look at the appalling facts of this case … .

I’m asking everyone who agrees with me to sign on to this petition and call for your arrest, Governor Snyder. You are not allowed to run amok in my hometown like you have done. The children whom you have poisoned have to endure a life of pain and lower IQ’s from your actions. You have destroyed a generation of children — and for that, you must pay.

It is time for you to go to prison. Out of mercy, I’ll ask that you have in your cell your own personal Gateway computer.

Sincerely,
Michael Moore
Flint native
Michigan resident and voter

P.S. For everyone wanting to sign on to this petition calling for the IMMEDIATE resignation of Governor Snyder AND for the FBI to arrest him, please sign the petition petition here: http://michaelmoore.com/ArrestGovSnyder

 

Massachusetts Residents Applaud First National Plan to Curb Carbon Pollution

BOSTON – Massachusetts elected officials, clean energy and public health advocates, environmental justice leaders, and many more today applauded President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first protections from dangerous carbon pollution emitted by existing power plants.

These new standards, which are part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, will clean up the industries that create the lion’s share of carbon pollution in our country, while advancing the growth of clean, renewable energy in Massachusetts and across the country.

The new protections will also help reduce other life-threatening air pollution including mercury, soot, and smog.

“In state, we’ve already seen the enormous economic benefits of reducing carbon pollution and investing in clean, renewable energy like wind and solar,” said Emily Norton, Director of the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts Chapter. “Through state leadership under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Massachusetts is working towards a bright future with cleaner air and more clean energy jobs. We hope Massachusetts leaders will seize this opportunity with the Clean Power Plan to continue to go above and beyond in protecting public health, advancing clean energy solutions, and maintaining our region’s position as a national leader in clean energy.”

The northeast corner of the country is already leading the country in reducing pollution with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since launching the program in 2008, states participating in RGGI have led the nation with significant reductions of carbon and health-damaging air pollution while lowering electric bills and creating tens of thousands of new jobs, generating billions of dollars in net economic benefits.

Carbon pollution is the main contributor to climate disruption, fueling superstorms, floods, wildfires, and record drought. Power plants spewing dangerous carbon pollution also have a disproportionately negative effect on low-income communities and communities of color already suffering from the worst effects of toxic pollution, including heart attacks, asthma, and premature death. By establishing carbon pollution protections, President Obama and the EPA are beginning the essential work of cleaning up and modernizing the way we power our country.

“From extreme and devastating weather patterns to unsafe air quality, Massachusetts residents know the consequences of dangerous carbon pollution all too well,” concluded Norton. “Today, our nation is taking a bold and historic action to address the growing threat of carbon pollution and climate disruption and to protect the health of families across our country. While there is more work to be done, I applaud President Obama and our Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing these historic safeguards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants and ensure that our kids, our communities and Massachusetts’ workforce are healthier, while also creating much-needed jobs and fighting climate disruption.”

As RGGI states have proven, complementary investments in energy efficiency, wind, and solar have made reducing carbon pollution from dirty power plants easy: the region includes 6 of the top 10 most energy efficient states in the country and every single state already has their own successful clean energy target. Energy consumers in the RGGI region– households, businesses, government users, and others – have saved $460 million, as their overall energy bills drop over time. States participating in RGGI can seize that opportunity by continuing to set carbon pollution reduction targets for power plants above and beyond minimum federal limits through the forthcoming RGGI Program Review, and expanding successful energy efficiency and clean energy targets to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity.

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The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.

For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

EPA Awards $400,000 for Cleanup Assessment Work in Wachusett Corridor

Brownfield funding benefits communities by helping cleanups and assessment of sites

LANCASTER – EPA is pleased to announce that the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission has been recommended for a $400,000 award under EPA’s Brownfields grant competition. Awards will be made upon successful completion of the award application process.

Once finalized, the $400,000 in Brownfields grants will help Montachusett Regional Planning Commission with a community-wide assessment grant that will assist efforts in the Wachusett Corridor area to assess, cleanup and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties.

The funding is part of $10.3 million in EPA brownfields investments across New England in 2015 protect health and the environment, create jobs and promote economic re-development in communities.

“EPA is proud to further assist the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission and the citizens it serves with this Brownfield funding. Cleaning and revitalizing contaminated sites helps create jobs, and can be the catalyst to create new businesses or neighborhood centers, all while making our environment cleaner and the community healthier,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England’s office. “This is just one way EPA works to make a difference in communities all across Massachusetts and New England.”

“This $400,000 award from the EPA is a major step forward for our families and communities in the Wachusett Corridor,” said Congressman Jim McGovern.

“The cleanup and redevelopment of these sites in Fitchburg, Leominster, and other areas will help to create jobs, revitalize the region’s economy, and protect the health and environment of these communities. I am grateful to the EPA for being a strong partner for Massachusetts and look forward to working with them as this project moves forward,” the congressman said.

“The EPA Brownfields Program focuses on cleaning up contaminated sites that will be reused or redeveloped into productive uses for our communities,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “Many cities in the Commonwealth are often dotted with blighted landscapes at former industrial or infrastructure sites that hinder economic revitalization, hurt community pride, and are potential environmental hazards. This fund will be used by MRPC to continue the great work they do and further the redevelopment and beautification of the region.”

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Executive Director, Glenn Eaton, stated, “Brownfields assessments will allow the MRPC to obtain information about real or perceived environmental contamination and facilitate site cleanup and eventual reuse.”

He also indicated that sites within the Wachusett Corridor that consists of sections of Fitchburg, Leominster, and Westminster will be prioritized over others in the Region, with approximately 50 percent of grant funds to be utilized in the area.

However, if a project is important to a community in any of MRPC’s 22 member communities, assessment activities will be considered ensuring equality for the region.

Eaton indicated that prioritization of the Wachusett Corridor was a recommendation of the Wachusett Smart Growth Corridor Plan, funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (Community Challenge Planning Grant) that was completed by MRPC in October 2014.

John Hume, MRPC’s Planning and Development Director stated that the Wachusett Corridor Smart Growth Plan was developed to identify opportunities strategies to benefit from the Wachusett Commuter Rail Extension Project (Wachusett Station) utilizing Smart Growth principles and to enhance the quality of life for residents of the corridor and the Montachusett Region as a whole.

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 334 assessment grants totaling $97 million, 68 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $85.2 million and 241 cleanup grants totaling $64.5 million.

These grant funds have paved the way for more than $2.5 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for nearly 14,458 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

EPA’s Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

 

InCity Voices: Protecting against childhood asthma by limiting carbon emissions

By Sean Palfrey, MD

Every time 8-year-old Mia leaves the house to play outside with friends, her mother, Rachael, worries that her daughter might suffer a serious asthma attack. Although she knows it would be unfair and unhealthy to keep Mia trapped inside every day after school or prevent her from participating in sleepovers and school field trips, it is sometimes hard for Rachael to let go of the memory of Mia’s early years.

Mia, like an ever-increasing number of Massachusetts children, has had to endure more than her fair share of severe asthma attacks. During one attack, she coughed so hard that she burst blood vessels in her eyes. Although these attacks are somewhat less frequent now, countless visits to the emergency room hardened her family to the harsh realities of raising a child with asthma, which can be deadly at worst and terrifying at best.

Because air pollution can be a recipe for disaster for Mia, Rachael continues to be vigilant about checking air quality forecasts and has often changed her family’s plans if an unhealthy air quality day is on the horizon. On days when the air quality is going to enter the code orange or red zones, Rachael knows it’s safer to keep Mia indoors than to risk her having an acute asthma attack.

One in ten people in the Bay State suffer with asthma, which is higher than the national average. We are seeing and treating an increasing number of children like Mia whose lives could be so much safer, happier and more successful if only we could only write a prescription for healthy air.

While those of us in the medical community do not have the power to write such a prescription, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does. Much to its credit, the EPA has finally taken necessary steps to clean up the most prolific stationary source of air pollution in this country—coal-fired power plants. No other industry produces more carbon pollution, and as temperature trends continue to rise, the dangers of carbon pollution increase exponentially because of this simple equation: heat plus carbon pollution equals smog.

Nearly a third of our state’s residents live in failing or near-failing air quality zones, according to the American Lung Association’s 2013 State of the Air report. Massachusetts is not only threatened by pollution from its own coal-fired power plants but from other downwind sources that grant us the loathsome distinction of being know as America’s “tailpipe”. It’s no wonder Rachael has struggled at times to keep Mia’s asthma attacks at bay. No matter how aggressive Massachusetts healthy air laws are, our children and adults will continue to suffer until a national solution is established.

The EPA’s current proposal applies to all new coal-fired power plants, but should also stimulate technological advances that could one day dramatically reduce pollution from our nation’s expansive fleet of power plants. As a country that prides itself on ambitious innovation, we certainly have the ability to make clean energy and healthy air a reality for our children’s and for all future generations, if and when we have the will.

The truth is, we can’t afford not to. Pollution from coal-fired power plants alone costs hard working people, including the Murphy family, tens of millions of dollars every year in health care expenses from hospital bills to costly co-pays. Taxpayers also shoulder the burden of these increases health care costs.

The bottom line is that air pollution kills and makes healthy living difficult for many. Dirty air not only triggers childhood asthma attacks, but is also known to cause the cancers, strokes and heart attacks that take from us those closest to us and most vulnerable—older adults and people with chronic lung and heart disease.

Shouldn’t we be asking the EPA when our country will finally begin to clear the air?

Dr. Palfrey is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at the Boston University School of Medicine and a volunteer for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts’ Healthy Air Campaign

ALA 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”

American Lung Association in Massachusetts Releases Top Priorities of 2013 “Healthy Air Agenda”
Waltham – The American Lung Association in Massachusetts released the priorities of its 2013 Healthy Air Agenda, a plan of action for the Obama Administration and the 113th Congress that will ensure the Clean Air Act is implemented and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains its authority to safeguard the air Americans breathe.

Despite ongoing interference from Big Polluters and some Members of Congress, the Lung Association in Massachusetts and its allies have made progress on cleaning up the air and will work to continue to do so throughout the coming year, using the Agenda as a roadmap.
The Agenda is organized into four key areas of focus with additional details as to which regulations, rules or activities will remain of focus within each area.  These include:

·         Smokestacks – Clean up coal-fired power plants (both existing and new)
Power plants, in particular those fired by coal, are a major source of hazardous pollutants, and are the biggest source of carbon pollution that is linked to climate change.

·         Tailpipes – Clean up gasoline and vehicles
The EPA needs to update standards to control smog-forming and particle pollution from passenger vehicles by reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline and setting tighter tailpipe pollution limits on new vehicles.

·         Funding Research & Enforcement
Preventing additional cuts to the EPA will enable the agency to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health and meet national clean air goals.

·         Implementation without weakening or delays
To truly improve the health of millions of people across the nation and save thousands of lives every year, full implementation of all Clean Air Act updates, rules, and standards is needed – without threats to these life-saving protections.

“In the coming year, it is important that polluted air continue to be viewed and understood as a pervasive threat, affecting our most vulnerable populations here in Massachusetts,” said Katie King, Director of Public Policy of the American Lung Association in Massachusetts.  Some of those who are most susceptible to air pollution include children, seniors, those with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, people with low incomes, and those who work and exercise outdoors.

King expressed concerns that the looming, automatic federal budget cuts due on March 1 will harm public health by reducing the EPA’s ability to monitor air quality, ensure compliance with air pollution laws, and enforce violations.  “Without an environmental cop on the beat, we could be subjecting the residents to breathing dirtier air and jeopardizing their health,” she said.

The American Lung Association’s 2012 State of the Air Report found that 2.7 million Massachusetts residents, more than a third in the state, live in a county with failing air quality.  Six counties received an F grade for ozone pollution.
By identifying these four critical areas of focus, and key solutions for addressing each, the Lung Association in Massachusetts will be able to devote focused efforts to the life-saving work that protects the Clean Air Act and the health of millions of people across the country and here in the Bay State.

CSX bribes and the long commute

By Rosalie Tirella

It is disheartening. L.G. Tim Murray wants more commuter trains coming to Worcester. He’s been harping on this for years. All the yuppies in the Canal District agree with Timmy because they, like Murray and Green Island carpet bagger Allen Fletcher, have rich fantasy lives! Boston artists jumping on the train to fly to Worcester! Worcester artists hoppin’ on the train to zip to Boston! Thousands of ideas cross-pollinating! Money flowing into Worcester. And the dream streams on … .

But getting what he wants from CSX has been tough: Murray and pals have been working on making Worcester a true suburb of Boston for years!!! Usually to no avail!

So, what finally happens? CSX says “yes” to more commuter trains for Worcester IF (and only IF) they can turn the bottom of Grafton Hill into their own personal toilet: a huge freight yard. Doubling the size of what’s already there! Which, for the Grafton Street folks, means: Lots more freight trains, lots more noise, lots more pollution, lots more ugliness.

For what? More commuter trains? Some fantasty of hundreds of people from Boston and Worcester riding into each other’s cities for art/work? Come on! We will never have that kind of exchange – the kind of exchange TRUE suburbs of Boston have with Beantown.

Illusion #1: More Boston folks coming to Worcester for less expensive housing and then commuting to Boston to their regular jobs.

These folks are in the minority!! My sister did the opposite for years – lived in Worcester and commuted to her job in Boston. Exhausting. After an 8 or 9 hour day, it was a drag to spend 45 minutes to an hour getting home. And let’s not forget the almost 1-hour commute to work in the morning! Not a whole lot of Worcesterites did this back then. I can’t imagine thousands doing it now. A few yuppies? Maybe. But hundreds of worker bees, like my sis? No way. The 5-day-work-week commute is simply too exhausting/time consuming.

Let’s remember: Most Bostonians do not want to leave their cool nest in Boston for digs in Worcester. They may make the transition only if they can trade in their Boston condo for a real house in Worcester (costs way less $$ than house in Metro Boston). But then again, there is the extra two hours (a day) to be tacked on to EVERY WORK day. No fun.

Oh, but that’s gonna work out, everything is OK because CSX is giving the City of Worcester more than $20 million in “mitigation” dough and $1 for every train that rolls into Worcester (this is forever).

We agree with District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller: Things are challenging for Worcester in these tough economic times, and any new partner/partnership is welcome. Especially a relationship with a deep-pocketed partner such as CSX.

But come on, folks! We are dumping on a working class neighborhood! We don’t know how all this pollution is going to affect nearby workers/residents. We guess everyone and their mother will have asthma. Maybe cancer rates will rise.

The buck always rules. It is always poor/blue collar folks and neighborhoods who get dumped on (sometimes literally). What happened to the old Italian neighborhood in East Boston? Razed to make way for Logan Airport. Locally, what happened to the good folks of Quinsig Village who struggled for years to close the (some said toxic) landfill in their neighborhood? City officials, DPW head Bob Moylan and let’s-leave-my district-in-the-dirt District 3 City Councilor Paul Clancy allowed for the landfill to be reopened – reopened to TOXIC shit from Boston. For money, of course. Money that was to go to Quinsig Village – more mitigation dough, I guess. Yeah, there’s a playground built with the funds, but, the God only knows what’s in the landfill.

And, I guess, God only knows what’s in store (on the health front) for the people of lower Grafton Hill.

But, hey, the rich have always gambled with the lives of the poor.