Representative Michele Bachmann kicked off her presidential campaign this week, and it didn't take her long to take an extreme position: Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency and labeled it "a job killing federal agency." This fringe position shows how willing she is to ignore the facts.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been protecting public health and the environment since its inception forty years ago under President Nixon. By providing realistic safeguards for our health, it helps us be more productive and suffer less illness. That means a stronger economy with fewer days of work lost. That's real money. For example, the Clean Air Act has prevented an estimated160,000 deaths in 2010 alone, and the benefits reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020.
The public understands the importance of the EPA's work: More than 77 percent of Americans -- including 61 percent of Republicans -- say "Congress should let the EPA do its job."
According to the American Lung Association, Bachmann's home county has an ozone grade of "C," and there are more than 4,200 children suffering from asthma, and more than 7,400 people suffering from chronic bronchitis. These are people hurt by the pollutants that the EPA is working to reduce, and it's still got more work to do.
It bears noting that one of the country's most polluting power plants is in her district, and it has been linked to air pollution, water pollution, and illness. This air pollution affects local communities, and USA Today has useful data on the local schools' poor air quality.
Contrary to what Rep. Bachmann suggests, putting proper pollution controls in place saves lives and creates jobs.
When I see a politician making decisions that are bad for their constituents, I always go to look at their donors. Turns out that Rep. Bachmann has received donations from the PACs of Xcel Energy (which owns that dirty power plant), Koch Industries, and Exxon Mobil.
It's unfortunate that Rep. Bachmann's presidential campaign is off to such a wrong-headed start. I hope she's able to reexamine her position and start making better decisions in the days ahead.