Sierra Club releases ad featuring asthmatic children - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Sierra Club releases ad featuring asthmatic children

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An advertisement from national environmentalists groups asks the question what "if every polluter's lobbyist was suddenly replaced by asthmatic children."

The commercial, posted to YouTube, proposes that the answer is that members of Congress would stop trying to "gut Clean Air Standards." The Sierra Club and National Resources Defense Council is spending seven figures to buy television ad space supporting new standards from the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency.

"Carbon pollution poses serious threats to Americans' health, our economy and the future of our children, but there are currently no federal limits on the amount of carbon being spewed into the air by the nation's largest sources of carbon pollution – dirty coal-fired power plants," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.  "Updating air quality protections will allow the EPA to focus on the industries that create the lion's share of the nation's carbon pollution and will also help reduce life-threatening air pollutants like dirty soot, toxic mercury and the smog that triggers asthma attacks."

The ads show a number of children in what appears to be the halls of Congress using inhalers as they sit in place of lobbyists. A narrator congratulates the Obama administration and the EPA for their efforts to reduce emissions from industry.

A news release sent by the Sierra Club, embargoed for release until March 7 at 6 a.m., points to scientific studies that connect asthma and other respiratory illnesses to carbon pollution from emission sources.

The media spots are to air in 12 major media markets in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. While not directly targeting West Virginia, the subject matter of the ads are likely to stir controversy within the state.

Coal-fired power plants are the primary source of not only electrical generation, but also profits in West Virginia.

Lawmakers at all levels of the state's government have been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency.  

"Doctors and nurses tell us we save lives and improve our children's health by reducing mercury, soot and industrial carbon pollution from power plants," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Yet many in Congress have tried to block efforts to continue cleaning up the air we breathe.  Clean air should be a birthright. Congress shouldn't take that away."

Specific members of Congress are not mentioned in the advertisement. Environmentalists have railed against Sen. Joe Manchin's legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.

Manchin and Coates' Fair Compliance Act would delay, but not weaken compliance with the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury Air Toxics Standards. Manchin defended the bill when it was first introduced last year.

"I believe we can find a responsible and reasonable balance when it comes to the environment and our energy needs as a nation," Manchin said. "My desire to achieve this balance is why my Republican colleague Dan Coats of Indiana and I introduced the Fair Compliance Act – a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation that would create a fair timeframe to comply with new rules. I hope that Congress will address these regulations, and take up the Fair Compliance Act as soon as possible, to prevent the potential loss of a million jobs, increased utility rates, and more damage to our economy."

Other members of the West Virginia delegation – including Republican House members Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley, have been the subject of environmental criticism in the process of defending the state's coal industry.

See the ads here: and here:


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