Why are Americans still dying from air pollution?

Do you ever marvel at all the things you’ve seen in your travels around the world?

It sometimes amazes me how long I‘ve been on the planet, and all the little memories I’ve gathered throughout the years.

For instance, I vividly remember the television commercial with the Native American who had a tear streaming down his face because there was so much pollution everywhere he turned. That one has stuck with me for years.

I also remember how the government made a concerted and expensive effort to remedy some of the more egregious pollution we’ve faced in recent decades. In fact, I have seen quite the environmental turnaround in my years. If you had told me a few decades ago that people would once again be fishing and searching for mussels, clams, and oysters in the waters of New York City, I would’ve thought you were crazy!

And yet, that’s just what’s happening. It’s a sight to see.

So it worries me when I see the current administration slamming the brakes on the environmental improvements we’ve made over the years. In fact, the administration is now running so far in the exact opposite direction that I’m concerned we’ll reverse the progress we’ve seen.

I naively thought that the worst was behind us, but it’s clear that the fight is far from over. Especially when we’re seeing headlines like the one I just came across: “Americans Still Dying from Air Pollution.”

That hit me in the gut. How is it possible that in a country as rich and as resourceful as ours, we are still allowing our citizens to die from air pollution?

This article cited a study of more than 60 million people. It showed that even the lowest levels of air pollution — well below the accepted national standards — are linked to increased mortality. And not surprisingly, racial minorities and those with low incomes are most vulnerable.

Don’t get me wrong, I travel a lot, especially to car-saturated cities like Dallas and Los Angeles. I’ve seen the pollution first hand, like a brown, muggy weight hovering overhead. But, after reading about this issue, it’s crystal clear that we need tighter air pollution regulations. That includes stricter limits on how much fine particulate matter we allow people to pump into the atmosphere.

When I lived in Dallas, there used to be warning signs along the highway and news flashes on the radio and TV cautioning us about high air pollution levels. During those alerts, we were encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible.

And things are only set to get worse if our new president and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director have their way.

Different types of transportation and coal-fired generation of electricity are responsible for much of the air pollution in the United States. Even so, Trump just recently signed an executive order that lifted a moratorium on new leases for coal mined on public and tribal lands. He also began a process to dismantle guidelines intended to reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity plants.

Not to mention that he withdrew us from the Paris climate agreement.

And, just so you know, the new EPA director appears to be weighing the possibility of revoking a Clean Air Act waiver that lets California limit tailpipe emissions beyond national standards. Even though 15 other states have followed suit and implemented California’s more stringent standards.

If this waiver is in fact revoked, 100 million Americans could see even higher car emissions than the ones we’re already seeing. In spite of the evidence that it’s literally killing us.

And before someone starts calling this “fake news,” let me go on record saying that I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Clean air is something we should all be able to agree on.