NAACP Supports EPA Efforts to Implement the Clean Air Act


The Clean Air Act was first signed into law in 1970 and was amended and strengthened in 1977 and 1990.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that if it is allowed to pursue regulations under the Clean Air Act, it will be able to prevent over 230,000 early deaths annually by the year 2020.   Furthermore, by the year 2020 the EPA estimates that the Clean Air Act will result in more than 17 million fewer lost work days per year due to illness caused by air pollution as well as almost 5.5 million fewer lost school days for American children.  Since the enactment of the Clean Air Act, the six most common air pollutants have decreased by more than 50%.

Sadly, and despite decades of rules and regulations and talk of “environmental justice,” disparities still exist in terms of who is currently affected by bad air.  An African American making $50,000 per year is more likely to live in an area cited for bad air pollution than a white American making $15,000 per year. Arsenic, dioxins, lead, mercury and other pollutants are spewed daily from various industrial facilities such as incinerators, power plants, factories, etc., putting people at risk across the country.  A Clean Air Taskforce report on power plant pollution found that emissions from all power plants in the U.S. are responsible for 30,000 premature deaths, 7,000 asthma-related emergency room visits, and 18,000 cases of chronic bronchitis each year. The result is that racial and ethnic minorities pay a greater price for the negative side effects of breathing bad air, including increased health expenses, more lost days of work and school, and diminished opportunities for lead-exposed kids who have learning challenges.

Sadly, and despite these figures, there are some extremist Members of Congress who want to curb EPA efforts to fully implement the Clean Air Act.  More than a dozen bills or amendments have been introduced or considered which would weaken, repeal or eviscerate the EPA’s ability to issue rules or regulations to clean the dangerous air pollutants including mercury, arsenic, soot, smog, carbon dioxide and coal ash to name a few.  The NAACP will continue to not only oppose these proposals, but to also work with the EPA, businesses and like-minded organizations to reduce and eventually eliminate the destructive disparate impact these pollutants are having on racial and ethnic minority communities.

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