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Green Balloons Over Houston: Its Time Parents Talk with Congress About Clean Air

Click Map to enlarge
Click Map to enlarge
Energy Justice Network

Oh, Gracious! I am looking at a map of Texas, but I can’t find my beloved Houston…Ah, yes! I see it! It’s under all of those green balloons. And those balloons, looming like thick clouds of smog, represent all of the coal-fired power plants located in and around my town. This disturbing reality check is available via the Energy Justice Network’s website to anyone who wants to see how many (and which) industrial polluters are located in and near their zip code.

Given that I have so many coal-fired power plants in my neighborhood, I am somewhat surprised that Texas ranks at number 13 on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s “Toxic 20” list of the most polluted states. I thought it might be higher.

Is your state on the “Most Polluted List?” Does your town harbor some of the nation’s top polluters? The Natural Resources Defense Council released a new study that lists the most polluted states. If you reside in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, so sorry to say, your state heads the “Toxic 20” list of states who suffer the greatest air pollution from power plants. Truth is – power plant polluters are all over the country. Nationally, they are the largest source of industrial emissions of toxic air, accounting for almost 50 percent of all reported toxic pollution from industrial sources in 2009.

Here is the entire “TOXIC 20” List

1. Ohio

2. Pennsylvania

3. Florida

4. Kentucky

5. Maryland

6. Indiana

7. Michigan

8. West Virginia

9. Georgia

10. North Carolina

11. South Carolina

12. Alabama

13. Texas

14. Virginia

15. Tennessee

16. Missouri

17. Illinois

18. Wisconsin

19. New Hampshire

20. Iowa

When you go to the Energy Justice Network’s map of your town and find a crowd of green coal-fired power plant balloons, like I did, other than shutter and increase your family’s dosage of anti-oxidants, what the heck can you possibly do to make a change for better air?

The Good News: I have been writing (incessantly, perhaps) about the EPA Mercury Standards and how important they are to the effort to clean up coal-fired power plant pollution. These new standards, according to EPA estimates, promise to save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015; prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms; and prevent more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and 850,000 lost work days every year.

The Bad News: Despite the life-saving outcomes of the EPA’s Toxics rule, members of Congress and some highly motivated polluters are working overtime to delay and soften the rules before the standards are finalized in November.

In light of this full-scale assault on the EPA and the toxics rules, it’s time we parents call upon Congress to stand up to protect our children. As Dan Lashof, Climate Center Director at NRDC puts it, "Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives.” If we don’t get in the ears of our members of Congress, the only voices they will hear are the energy lobbyists and corporate polluters (like the companies on NRDC’s list of Top Power Plant Polluters.

Below are links to help you reach your members of Congress:

1. Who? Here is a site to help you locate the right member of Congress to contact.

2. How and Where? Here is a website that tells you how to schedule a visit with your members of congress and what to do once you’re there.

3.What? Here are links to clean air talking points:

From the Sierra Club

From the National Resources Defense Council

4. Why? Here is how some members of Congress are attacking clean air effort and the EPA rules.

5. When? Here’s How to Write the EPA?

6. Bonus? Here’s where to join the Mom’s Clean Air Force to help reach other concerned parents like you!

Cross posted at Mom's Clean Air Force!

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