Health or dollars?
Can we start by agreeing that air pollution is bad? Probably. But where we'll disagree is on how much air pollution is acceptable and how much we're willing to spend to reduce it. The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed tougher smog standards, just a couple of years after President Bush ignored scientists’ recommendations and set a higher smog standard than what they proposed. Actually, ignored is probably not the right word. Bush heard what they said, but when electric utilities and other companies complained, he sided with industry over the health of Americans. The new, tighter standards are not cost-free, by any means. The EPA says it will cost tens of billions to meet the called-for smog reductions, but the agency says billions eventually will be saved in terms of avoided emergency room visits, premature deaths, missed work, etc. We can't control what other countries do around the globe, but we can, and should, do what we can to improve our environment. And that includes, for some people, admitting that climate change is real and that our actions are largely to blame for it. And admitting that we need to do more – much more – to develop alternatives to our current fuel sources.