Clean air is an investment that pays off over time

Thank you for publishing the Green Scene article “Into Thin Air” by Susan Andrew [Nov. 8 Xpress]. The ongoing debate about pollution regulation, while sometimes frustrating and seemingly redundant, is very critical in a time when corporations seem to pull more weight than people. I was pleased that the article revealed both sides of the argument: those who believe regulation hurts businesses and costs too much for little payback as well as those who understand the threats from pollution and the many cost-saving health benefits that regulations generate.

I fear we are sliding backwards in terms of environmental concern in this country even though clean air is an investment that pays off over time. We should not lessen regulations in blind pursuit of profits. The net cost savings of health benefits alone are enough to offset the costs of implementing regulations. Moreover, eliminating the Air Toxics Programs won’t provide a solution to our economic problems. Eliminating that policy would only put us at a higher risk for exposure to chemicals known to cause birth defects, cancer, respiratory illness, heart attacks, premature death and asthma. A real solution would be to build a sustainable economic system that promotes financial circulation through our communities, and not in the confines of the stock market or lobbyists. As citizens of this country, we have the right and the duty to remind our elected leaders what we value. The beautiful landscape of our state is worth protecting both for our well-being and our livelihood. Our clean air and lush mountains foster the tourism economy that so many of us, including me, depend on.

If businesses had to pay the actual costs of the ecological damage and health problems resulting from their pollution emissions, perhaps this debate would finally be put to rest. Air regulations may result in a cost for corporations, but pollution and chemical contamination always result in a cost for people and our communities and sometimes it’s fatal.

— Maryann Palazzolo
Policy Intern for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Asheville

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