Wednesday, September 07, 2011

President Obama and the Smog Issue


By Norris McDonald

I am a chronic acute asthmatic who was intubated for four days in each of the years 1991 and 1996.  So I have an intimate connection to smog.  The 91 intubation was due to smog exposure.  The 96 was due to toxic chemical exposure.  I also had numerous visits to the emergency room fighting for my life in 1991.  So what does President Obama's retreat on the proposed ozone regulation mean to me?  Oh, and what does it mean to me with a 9.1% unemployment rate (16% in the Black community)?

The driving public would drive right over my cold dead asthmatic body to get to work.  The unemployed would do the same thing if they had a job.  Environmentalist are ripping President Obama a new one on this retreat while industry is celebrating and anticipating more retreats included in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's regulatory hit list.  President Obama clearly reacted to zero jobs created in August of 2011.  So this decision boils down to jobs versus clean air.  Although I agree with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that clean air regs will improve health, reduce suffering and death and create innovative smog mitigation jobs, I am also sensitive to the complaints of industry that new regs will increase energy prices and possibly reduce utility plant jobs through closures.

What is a chronic asthmatic to do?  We are a practical environmental group. We are solutions oriented.  I suspect that in a political world, President Obama had no choice but to delay the ozone reg.  You can hate politics if you want to, but it is the reality Inside The Beltway.  It is also a reality Outside The Beltway because jobs are at stake and so is the health of American citizens.  If industry says they aint hiring because of regulatory burden, the astute person would listen.  If I have to live with a dirtier air penalty that threatens my life in order to increase job creation, so be it.  I hate that President Obama had to make that decision. I also hate the high unemployment rate. It is easy for those who are not in the driver's seat to judge the president.  Yet I trust President Obama's instincts when it comes to what is best for America.

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