Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on what could best be called the "Dirty Air Act" — legislation that would permanently allow our nation’s biggest polluters to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air. Although the bill gained enough votes to pass in the House, I am pleased that our Congressman, Heath Shuler, was not among those supporting this effort. As a mother who has held my young asthmatic child as she struggled to breathe, I am sincerely grateful that Rep. Shuler cast a vote on behalf of her and the 200,000 other children in North Carolina that suffer from asthma, instead of joining some of his colleagues who supported the profits of our largest polluters.
It is hard to understand why legislators would even want to roll back environmental or public-health protections when we have witnessed three major energy-related environmental disasters in as many years. Our neighbors in middle Tennessee are still dealing with the impacts from the coal ash disaster in late 2008, and it will be years, if not decades, before communities along the Gulf Coast fully recover from last summer’s BP oil spill. Meanwhile, displaced residents in Japan are still coping with the ongoing nuclear meltdown that resulted from last month’s earthquake and tsunami. While some may breathe a sigh of relief that none of these disasters happened here in Western North Carolina, but for the grace of God go we.
Each of us deserves to live in a world with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and when we have the ability to protect the least among us from many forms of pollution, it is a moral duty to do well by doing good.
— Jennifer Rennicks