MI scientists: Assault on EPA threatens public health, economy
LANSING – More than 160 scientists from universities across Michigan today called on Michigan’s congressional delegation to oppose further attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, calling the EPA essential to protecting the public health.
“For more than 40 years, the EPA has protected public health and safety by holding polluters accountable – and it should be allowed to continue doing its job,” said Knute Nadelhoffer, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan. “Scientists across Michigan stand united with scientists at the EPA and across the nation. Science, not politics, must drive our fight against dangerous pollution.”
Nadelhoffer testified before Congress on Tuesday about the importance of allowing the EPA to set greenhouse gas emission standards under the Clean Air Act.
The scientists’ letter states: “We strongly urge you to reject any measure that would block or delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the people of Michigan from air pollution and human caused climate change, both of which put our health, agriculture, environment and economy at risk.” [The letter is attached below.]
The scientists are continuing to circulate the letter to more researchers and scientists across the state, with the goal of building momentum and raising their voices to Congress.
“Michigan scientists urge Congress to defend Michigan citizens, not polluters,” said David Karowe, professor of biological sciences at Western Michigan University. “By taking away or weakening the EPA’s authority to fight greenhouse gas pollution, Congress is endangering the public health by increasing the likelihood of deadly heat waves, floods, and droughts.”
“In the long run, climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions is going to be extremely costly to Michigan’s economy, so we need to consider the long-term risk against the short-term costs,” said Stephen Hamilton, professor of ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry at W.K. Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University. “And each year that we delay action commits us to more severe climate change well into the future, because greenhouse gas effects will persist for a very long time.”
“Greenhouse gas pollution is a threat to our families’ health and safety, and it endangers important industries from agriculture to tourism,” said Steve Bertman, WMU chemistry professor and an expert on atmospheric chemistry. “The science is clear: Greenhouse gas pollution harms our air, land and water. Ultimately, it will be the growing industries of alternative energy that will bring innovation and jobs back to Michigan. We should be doing everything we can to support these jobs of the future rather than upholding outdated technologies of the past.”
“I am proud to stand with my fellow scientists in sending this message to Congress: Let science, not politics, determine how we set standards on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sarah Green, chair of the chemistry department at Michigan Technological University. “As Congress begins the debate on the Clean Air Act, it is vital that they hear from scientists – and more than 160 of us in Michigan are ready to make our voices heard.”
“The EPA does important life-saving work to protect public health,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center and an adjunct environmental law professor at the University of Michigan. “These Michigan scientists fully support the EPA’s setting sensible clean air standards to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollution that harm our health. Congress should work to reduce pollution, not open the floodgates to more toxic pollution that puts Michigan’s future and our health at risk.”
Among the facts the Michigan scientists highlighted in their letter:
- The Clean Air Act requires that EPA work to reduce smog and soot pollution, air toxics, and global warming pollution that together cost the people of Michigan and America billions of dollars in health care and other costs.
- Clean air rules can create more than 62,300 construction, installation and professional jobs in Michigan in the next five years.
- Michigan’s Big Three have already publicly supported EPA rules to reduce emissions in new vehicles.
- Clean air regulations save consumers millions of dollars in gas costs, reduce oil consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 960 million metric tons.
Signatories of the letter included scientists and researchers from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, and Hope College, Kalamazoo College and Calvin College, as well as scientists with other institutions doing research in Michigan.
A recent statewide poll showed Michigan voters overwhelmingly support the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial sources. According to the poll of 500 Michigan voters by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 68 percent of voters support the EPA’s authority, compared with only 27 percent.
Last week, the EPA released a report showing that the Clean Air Act will have saved $2 trillion by 2020 and prevented at least 230,000 deaths annually. By 2020, complying with the amendments would prevent 200,000 heart attacks, 17 million lost work days and 2.4 million asthma attacks, according to the report.
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