Guest opinion: Pollution controls protect Montana's health

2013-11-06T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: Pollution controls protect Montana's healthBy KIM DAVITT
and KELLI BARBER
The Billings Gazette
November 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As parents, Montanans and health professionals, we want our state to have a healthy future. We want our children to get the support and care they need. We want to protect them from climate change, which is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time.

Doing this means reducing carbon pollution, which contributes to rising temperatures and their associated health risks, including more heat waves and droughts; higher levels of smog; and longer pollen and wildfire seasons.

Vulnerable kids, elders

Children, along with seniors, are among the most vulnerable to these problems and it’s important that we step up to protect them. The recently released carbon pollution standards for new power plants will help us do this.

Currently, there are no limits on how much carbon pollution power plants can emit. But the new standard will require any power plants built in the future to limit their carbon emissions. This forward-thinking standard will not only protect public health, but ensure that power generation in our country becomes cleaner and more efficient.

During its 40-year history, the Clean Air Act has resulted in pollution controls that safeguard our air quality and save thousands of lives each year. It’s estimated that by 2020, Clean Air Act protections will save $2 trillion in health care costs and 230,000 lives annually. We must ensure that industry keeps pace with technology and that life-saving innovation continues.

Promoting innovation

According to a bipartisan survey by the American Lung Association, voters strongly support the update of clean air protections, and an astounding 72 percent specifically want limits on power plant carbon pollution.

The findings also indicate 73 percent of Americans don’t feel they need to choose between health and a strong economy — we can achieve both. And a 2-to-1 majority believes strengthening safeguards against pollution will create, not end, jobs by promoting innovation.

We urge Montana’s leaders in Congress and Gov. Steve Bullock to embrace this opportunity to protect future generations of Montanans and to keep our Big Sky clean and healthy.

Kim Davitt of Missoula works with the American Lung Association and Kelli Barber is with Health Care Without Harm.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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