Photo credit: Ken Lund via Flickr/CC BY-SA
In a way, it makes sense that GOP politicians would be so cavalier about dismantling those Clean Air Act rules that would require better pollution controls on coal plants -- after all, as a group largely comprised of affluent white men, they've probably never had to live next door to one. They've likely never had to live in a community that has higher rates of asthma and respiratory sickness due to being nestled up against a coal plant. They can't grasp this visceral reminder that emissions from coal plants kill tens of thousands of people across the nation every year. But those who aren't so lucky certainly can can -- more often than not, it's the lower-income minority communities that have to live in the shadows of coal plants and their noxious emissions.
Which is why Latino advocacy groups -- representing millions of people across the US -- have united to oppose the GOP's recent assault on the EPA and the Clean Air Act.Voces Verdes, a nonpartisan Latino environmental advocacy group, organized the effort, and won support from many of the nation's top Latino health, education, and environmental organizations. Today, it called on Congress to keep the EPA and the Clean Air Act strong, as both have provided invaluable pollution protections and health benefits to the American public in general. And it's often low income minority groups that need these protections the most -- and stand to be most impacted if they're weakened.
A recent report by the US Environmental Protection Agency ... found that cutting pollution through the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 premature deaths in 2010 as well as over 1.7 million asthma attacks last year -- benefits that would be lost if these politically motivated bills and amendments were to pass. For Latinos, who often bear the brunt of pollution impacts, the impacts would be even more serious. In the U.S. today, one out of every 10 children are affected by asthma, a staggering number in itself. Latino children, however, fare far worse being 60% more likely to develop asthma than non-Hispanic white children. Sadly, Latinos are also three times as likely to die of asthma as white non-Hispanics.Obviously, no corporation wants to spend money on costly pollution controls -- which is why the fossil fuel-intensive corporate sector has rallied the support of the GOP to help it skirt these costs. But there's no getting around it -- the pollution emitted by coal plants is killing people. Actually killing people. There's a clear moral choice to be made here -- protect the corporate interests of the rich, who benefit from not having to upgrade old, pollution-belching equipment, or protect the very health of afflicted families who have the least means to cope with the illnesses coal emissions create.
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