Letter: Montanans’ health suffers with delay in air pollution cuts – Billings Gazette, Oct. 14, 2012

October 16, 2012

Categories: Clean Energy, Coal, Letters


As a pediatrician, I know that young lungs are at risk for irritation and damage from air pollution. Seniors also are at increased risk for health problems, including lung and heart disease, from pollutants. Over the past 40 years, the Clean Air Act has saved thousands of lives and reduced hospitalizations by ensuring we use science and available technology to reduce toxic pollutants in our air. The U.S. pollutions control industry has become a world leader as a result.

Recent polls indicate voters from both parties firmly support keeping our air clean and toughening public health protections. We all breathe. We all have children, grandchildren and seniors we love. I care for them every day and shudder to see a child whose participation in sports and school and life is limited by asthma, that is worsened by pollution.

So it’s disheartening to see Congress using public health as a political football. In its last vote before the election, the U.S. House passed a so-called “Stop the War on Coal Act” that would disregard science and technology and prevent limits on mercury and other toxic emissions — already delayed for more than 20 years — from taking effect. This cynical move was Congress’ last vote before the election.

These health protections require utilities to upgrade their dirty, 40-plus-year-old coal plants and join the 21st century, rather than use politics to further delay work they should have done years ago. Every year they have delayed, there are needless premature deaths and hospital admissions due to asthma attacks and other health issues. More delays mean more deaths and more dirty air by outdated plants that could and should be updated.

Lori Byron, MD, FAAP

220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154