Breath of Fresh Air in Senate: “We Are Not Just in This Chamber to Represent the Polluters”
There’s so much hot air coming out of Washington these days, many Americans have tuned out. But one speech on the Senate floor recently is worth watching in full.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is a longtime champion of clean air. Last week, he told his Senate colleagues that no matter how you look at it, clean air is a great investment and it’s time to stop playing games with Americans’ health:
[W]e are not just in this Chamber to represent the polluters. We are supposed to be here to represent all Americans, and Americans benefit from environmental regulation big time.
Over the lifetime of the Clean Air Act, for instance, for every $1 it costs to add pollution controls, Americans have received about $30 in health and other benefits. By the way, installing those pollution controls created jobs because they went to manufacturers to build the controls and to Americans to install them. But setting that aside, a 30-to-1 benefit ratio to keep our air clean sounds like a mighty wise investment to me. That 30-to-1 ratio doesn’t even count the intangible benefits — intangible but very real benefits — of clear air and clean water, the benefits of the heart and the soul, the benefits to a grandfather of taking his granddaughter to the fishing hole and still finding fish there or of the city kid being able to go to a beach and have it clean enough to swim there or the benefit to a mom who is spared the burden of worry, of sitting next to her asthmatic baby on the emergency room albuterol inhaler waiting for his infant lungs to clear.