Congress Must Remember its History and Value Clean Air

Over 17,000 NWF Action Fund supporters have spoken up to defend polar bears against big polluters in the fight to hold Big Oil and corporate polluters accountable, curb global warming pollution and keep the Clean Air Act strong. 

But, the fight is only beginning to keep our air clean, and land and habitats intact for wildlife across the country.

Some members of Congress have forgotten our history, and exactly how much our nation is benefitting from the Clean Air Act by stopping the unlimited air pollution that destroys the air we breathe.

Not so long ago, there were leaders on both sides of the aisle in Congress who believed that clean air was important: Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, for example.

Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law 40 years ago expressing:


“We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.”

Years later in the mid 80s, Reagan, a supporter of the Clean Air Act, reiterated Nixon:

“Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”

But right now, the new chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, wants to attack that very same Clean Air Act which is one of the most studied and most successful pieces of protection in our nation’s history.  In an article in FrumForum, David Jenkins wrote:

 “In a recent interview with National Journal Daily, Ed Whitfield of Kentucky talked about his desire to roll back provisions of the Clean Air Act, saying:

“This is a much broader issue than the health of the American people and lungs and emphysema; it’s how can we balance that in the global marketplace for jobs.”

Last time I checked, without our lungs we won’t be able to work and thus, we can’t perform our daily tasks that create a global marketplace to begin with.  Without our health and the health our children, and the health of the natural resources (aka air) that provides us with life—we can’t survive.

Being stewards for clean air and clean natural resources is a common sense statement, but only three weeks into the new Congress, some allies of big polluters have lost that common sense, and are advocating for big polluters, not the American people.  As Congress begins moving forward in the weeks ahead, my only question is: “How will you help keep the air that keeps us alive from becoming dirty air?”