Broad Coalition of Groups Demands Clean Air for Americans

On February 10th, on a conference call with members of the media, leaders from Physicians for Social Responsibility, the NAACP, Sierra Club and a Yale economist highlighted the health threats of pollution to Americans and called for strong safeguards from the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the health of American families. 

“Corporations want to continue polluting with no limits at the cost of our health,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “There is a reason why ‘protection’ is the EPA’s middle name.”

The groups’ leaders discussed their serious concerns about the threats of pollution on the health of Americans and called for the strongest EPA safeguards possible to protect public health. 

“At its core, the purpose of the Clean Air Act is to protect Americans’ health,” said Dr. Kristen Welker-Hood, director of environment and health at Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Air pollution makes people sick and it can kill them. It can kill the elderly and children alike. We need to stand together to protect our communities and make sure they’re able to live freely without suffering.” 

“We can no longer allow polluting industries to put pollution over people,” said Jacqueline Patterson, director of the environmental and climate justice program for the NAACP, highlighting the civil rights and discriminatory aspects of pollution.  She said communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately exposed to the harmful effects of pollution. 71 percent of African Americans live in areas of high environmental hazard, compared with 58 percent of the white population. 

This week a new report found that the same proposed EPA safeguards for clean air that will protect communities’ health have the potential to create more than 1.5 million new jobs in the next five years alone.

“Many of the EPA proposed policies and their enforcement have the most favorable cost-benefit ratio of any federal policies,” said Dr. Matthew Kotchen, Yale University Economics Professor. Elaborating on the positive economic impact of the EPA’s safeguards, Dr. Kotchen continued, “Coal companies have no economic reason to account for the harmful pollutants released into the air without a strong policy framework.”

The Sierra Club is a long-time advocate of moving toward a clean energy economy and off of dirty fuels.

“The costs of energy are changing rapidly and dramatically, and the reason we have been able to stop the construction of 150 new coal plants is in part because of the pollution, but also because of the economics of coal which is growing in cost, while the costs of alternatives – like wind and solar – are falling,” said Brune.

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