The Clean Air Act has protected our air, water, children and families for 40 years. Yet, it finds itself under an all out assault from Congress – with bill after bill being offered to delay, defund, deny and detract from the Act’s success and authority. Remember when New York City smog filled the air and made breathing a chore? Remember when the Cuyahoga River caught fire because it was so polluted? The Clean Air Act cleaned that up and is responsible for making these types of health threats a part of our past.
So how can Republicans overlook the public health benefits and the 160,000 lives saved each year because of the Clean Air Act? Because those 160,000 American lives don’t compare to the other six-figure numbers of interest to them. Republicans, and some Democrats, don’t want to fund the Clean Air Act updates because of the millions in campaign cash they receive from the big polluters, simple as that. They don’t care about the success of the Clean Air Act and how it has worked exactly the way it was intended, saving lives while cleaning up our air. As Americans, we can’t stand by and watch the special interests influence policies that will make us sick.
An organization I head up, American Family Voices, recently launched an ad campaign and petition to drive the message home: we don’t want the deaths and other public health threats that will result from this policy decision the Republican-controlled Congress wants to pursue. Our ad certainly doesn’t pull any punches, but if that’s what it takes to inform Americans that lives are at stake then so be it.  Certainly, the debate about air pollution should include the truth: lives are at stake, and Congress is taking action to put us all at risk.
It’s time to stand up and tell Congress to stop playing games with our lives. When it comes to clean air we want to take steps forward with no going back.  Preventing clean air standards for the sake of the special interests puts profits before American lives. It’s wrong, and we need to stop them from succeeding.
Mike Lux is the President of American Family Voices.