For the League of Women Voters, protecting public health by reducing air pollution is a priority issue. The League’s National President Elisabeth MacNamara said this after President Obama’s decided not to tighten the ozone standard issued in the W. Bush years:
“In the face of political pressure from polluters, President Obama has backed down, a decision which will hurt those most threatened by air pollution, particularly children and seniors. Public opinion is clear – clean air and public health are more important than polluter profits. The science is clear – a new clean air standard for ozone smog is needed to protect peoples’ health.
“The League of Women Voters is deeply disappointed that President Obama has chosen more air pollution over the health of children and families and that he chose to announce his decision on a day when most Americans are thinking more about the long Labor Day weekend than about the implications of this hurtful decision. We expected better from our President.”
“Ozone smog”? I thought ozone was good! Ah, now I remember: The ozone way up above the earth, almost in space, protects us. But ozone down around us, in the local atmosphere, made when sunlight hits pollution, causes asthma and other lung disease.
Is a year and a half of waiting and extra public health suffering worth the political gain? I suppose Obama, re-elected, would do a better job of protecting the Clean Air Act than would a rabid Republican with a Republican House of Representatives and a Senate vulnerable to Republican-led filibusters. We can hope that Obama’s move was intended to improve the long-term picture for public health.
But when the League of Women Voters starts getting impatient for “change,” watch out!