Late Tuesday we learned that Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, will illegally attempt to delay the implementation of the 2015 smog pollution standard by one year, yielding to the demands of polluters and their political allies. For every person suffering from asthma or other health problems triggered by smog, that one year could mean the difference between life and death, and that’s why the Sierra Club and our allies will fight this rollback every step of the way.
Once again, the Trump administration is flouting the Clean Air Act and acting illegally by putting polluter profits before the health of our children. Pruitt’s own news release on this decision even talks polluter profits instead of health.
An asthma attack cannot be delayed a year and neither can a trip to the emergency room, but those are the real-world consequences of Pruitt’s actions in attempting to delay stronger smog pollution standards.
In the United States, nearly 40 percent of people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog (or ozone), a toxic compound and a dangerous lung irritant. Doctors liken inhaling smog to getting a sunburn on your lungs, and prolonged exposure can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Smog can also trigger severe asthma attacks and lead to chronic conditions like bronchitis, emphysema, or in severe cases, premature death.
This video of five-year-old asthma-sufferer Alani and her mom Carol shows the real life effects of asthma. Alani struggles every day due to the air pollution in her community of Fontana, California.
Hundreds of medical scientists, doctors, and policy experts have weighed in on the need to strengthen our clean air protections against smog pollution. Children are at the greatest health risk from air pollution because they are more likely to be active outdoors and their lungs are still developing. Asthma strikes nearly 1 out of every 10 school children in the United States and is the number-one health issue that causes kids to miss school. In knowing this, Pruitt’s decisionshows he would rather listen to a coal executive about what is safe for our families to breathe as opposed to doctors and other medical professionals.
Following the historic mistake of pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt have continued their work of undermining our bedrock public health safeguards, at the bidding of polluting industries. Tuesday’s action proves once again that while this administration claims to care about clean air and water, nothing could be further from the truth. We will fight this egregious breach of the Clean Air Act and the right of every American to breathe clean air.