This post was written by Tracy Sabetta:
The city of Ironton, Ohio is close to the southernmost tip of the state. The area once claimed abundance of coal and iron ore, and with its two rail lines, became a hot bed of trade in the 1800s. But as the decades went on, miners excavated most of the region’s natural resources, and the economy stagnated. Today, Ironton has a population of just over 11,000 people, down to the same numbers it saw in 1890.
This is not an unfamiliar story for heavy industrial towns here in Ohio. But given this portrait of the city, it was a very pleasant surprise to read last week’s Ironton Tribune editorial entitled, “Toxic region must become primary focus.”
The editorial comes in response to a recent study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council which states that Ohio ranks second in the nation for air pollution tied to coal-fired power plants. The study looked at mercury and carbon pollution, and other toxic materials that are spewed into our air.
Ranking second in pollution only to Kentucky, power plants in Ohio are currently emitting more than 36.4 million pounds of harmful chemicals, which accounted for 62 percent of state pollution and 12 percent of toxic pollution from all U.S. power plants. Similarly, Ohio ranked 2nd among all states in industrial mercury air pollution from power plants with nearly 4,210 pounds emitted in 2010, accounting for 73 percent of state mercury air pollution and 6 percent U.S. electric sector pollution.
Doctors, nurses, scientists and other experts agree that limiting dangerous air pollution from power plants is critical to protecting the health of our kids. More than 200,000 children in Ohio currently live everyday with the challenges of asthma, a condition exacerbated by particulate matter and ozone found in our air.
The editorial rightly points out that it is not an unreasonable request to ask that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and that business and industry are good corporate citizens. It’s a question of keeping our families healthy.
But those responsible for this pollution want us to ignore the facts and leave our kids exposed to what comes out of the dirty smokestacks at the local power plant. They’d prefer the EPA be abolished and clean air protections along with it, rather than invest in new technology that will improve air quality and create new clean energy jobs. That’s not very kid friendly in my book.
For many of us who spend our days talking with decision makers, elected officials, and the public about the dangers of air pollution, editorials like the one in the Ironton Tribune truly come as a breath of fresh air. People in every corner of our state have started paying attention to this critical issue because they acknowledge that, “Living in a clean and healthy environment should be considered as alienable a right as those protected by the U.S. Constitution.”
I don’t think I could have said it better, myself.
Want to tell the Ironton Tribune that you agree there should be a focus on air pollution in Ohio? Please take a moment to leave a comment on the Ironton Tribune showing your support for their editorial.