In the coming weeks, EPA will finalize a new national standard for smog. This standard, years overdue, will set allowable limits of smog in our air. It will take into account the latest science on smog and health, which offers broad, compelling evidence that the current standard does not adequately protect breathers.
And just like clockwork, a cynical propaganda campaign based on wildly overblown “projections” of the costs of a science-based smog standard has blanketed Beltway media markets and social media channels, trumpeting the claim that a science-based air quality standard would “devastate” the US economy.
Have health based air quality standards ever devastated our economy? No. Indeed, Clean Air Act standards have been implemented at increasingly more stringent levels for decades, following the latest public health research – while our economy has thrived. Clean air is actually a good investment.
But there’s more than mere false claims that nags about this latest campaign. It’s the implication that the scientific evidence about the health impacts of smog is something that our regulators can and should choose to ignore. It’s as if the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce see the science as a pile of dirty laundry that we can just step over on our way toward unfettered economic growth.
That really rankles — because that pile of dirty laundry is actually thousands of scientific studies, painstakingly conducted by scientists, doctors, engineers, and other researchers over many years. That pile of dirty laundry is asthma attacks, reduced lung function, respiratory infections, premature death, coughing, shortness of breath – it’s our kids and our families, and their ability to breathe clean air. That pile of dirty laundry is also our right, as parents, to know if the air is safe to breathe. Only an updated standard, one that accurately reflects the latest science, can give us that right.