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February 10, 2011

Time to Put People Ahead of Polluters

Something's seriously out of whack when you put healthy profits for polluters ahead of the health and safety of the American people.

When the founding fathers described "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence, "life" was listed first for a reason. And yet, instead of being defended in the halls of Congress, the right to a long and healthy life is under attack.

The Clean Air Act doesn't just make the air look cleaner -- it's our main defense from mercury, arsenic, carbon dioxide, and other life-threatening pollution in our air. Administrator Lisa Jackson and the EPA are charged with using the best science to identify and curb pollution that endangers public health and welfare. She and her agency take that duty seriously, and it was good to see her stand up this week to the first round of bullying from some who don't.

Because the alternative is inescapable: Don't put the health and welfare of Americans first. If you're a politician with close ties to the cash-drenched oil and coal industries (and I'm not talking about exchanging Christmas cards), then you somehow find a way to rationalize that. Next thing you know, you're talking about repealing or overriding the Clean Air Act and restricting or even eliminating the EPA.

But there's no way around it: You're putting polluters ahead of people.

That's why Americans -- across the board and in poll after poll -- don't support the EPA witch-hunt on Capitol Hill. To them it is self-evident that what's really under attack isn't Lisa Jackson or the EPA -- it's all of us; our inalienable right to be protected from life-threatening pollutants in our air and water. In fact, Americans -- and not just the ones who belong to the Sierra Club -- think the EPA should be doing more, not less, to protect the health and safety of our families and communities.

That's why the Sierra Club is mobilizing our 1.4 million members and supporters in a national effort to stop these polluters and their friends in Congress. The American people already understand what's at stake. But now we need to send a clear message to our leaders in Congress and to remind President Obama: Protect our health, not the profits of polluters. If you don't want Peabody Coal deciding how clean your air will be or BP how safe your water will be -- then now's the time to make your voice heard.  


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Michael Brune

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