Lance Weyeneth really dislikes leaving northern Michigan and he rarely heads south of the Au Sable River. The avid angler works at one of the most popular fly fishing lodges in the U.S. – and when he’s not doing that, he’s selling real estate in the same area. 

“I’m selling dreams up here. People want to move to ‘Pure Michigan,’” he said, in a nod to the state’s tourism motto.

But Lance left all that beauty behind for a few days – he’s in Washington, DC, this week because he’s concerned about keeping Michigan (and the rest of the U.S.) pure and free from mercury pollution caused by coal-fired power plants.

Weyeneth joined other concerned citizens brought to the nation’s capitol for a Mercury and Clean Air Act fly-in. They’re here talking to senators and Congressional representatives about the impending bills aimed at weakening our bedrock clean air protections. These bills would cripple the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from mercury and other pollution.

Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on several bills that will prevent EPA from doing its job. Many in the Senate are hearing more from big polluters than they are from people like Lane. These polluters have launched an all-out assault on clean air standards that would threaten the health of our children, leading to more asthma attacks and learning disabilities.

Brent Nickola, another Michigander and angler also in town for the Clean Air Act fly-in to share his concerns about mercury, said this push is about more than just fishing – he’s got a 16-month-old child. He’s tired of the either-or misinformation being spread as well.

“There’s so much bad rhetoric out there right now that you can’t have a clean environment and clean energy and jobs,” said Nickola. Weyeneth chimed in: “Quality of life and a high economic standard are not mutually exclusive.”

One example of this is an ad run by the lobbyists at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE):

 

You wouldn’t use a hammer to fix your computer. You don’t use a folding map if you have a GPS. The point is, we don’t use yesterday’s tools to solve today’s challenges. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency has started regulating greenhouse gas emissions under a 40-year-old law that doesn’t even mention the term ‘greenhouse gases.’ The result could be higher energy prices and lost jobs.

How interesting that ACCCE, a lobbying front that represents a form of power not substantively changed since “horses and buggies” were a thing, is now saying that a 40-year old law to keep people safe is “using yesterday’s tools to solve today’s challenges.”  

But these are the argument polluters are using in order to keep the status quo – so they can keep putting profits over Americans’ health.

Nickola, Weyeneth and the rest spent Monday and Tuesday telling those in Congress that America needs champions who will defend our nation’s well-being by committing to support the Clean Air Act – not corporate polluter politicians who will sacrifice our health to generate even more profits for Big Oil and King Coal.

Jim Keller, also part of the Clean Air Act fly-in group, isn’t just the chair of his local Sierra Club group in Reading, Pennsylvania; he’s also a registered Republican. “I was reminding (many representatives) that this isn’t just health – this saves money in the long run.”

The Clean Air Act has a 40-year track record of protecting our health. By 2020, the Clean Air Act will have saved Americans $2 billion and saved 230,000 lives.

For Roni Kampmeyer, the health risks of coal are becoming more and more visible in her southwestern Pennsylvania community. She lives near the Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment (really, a lake full of toxic coal ash), and is worried any attacks on the EPA are really just further attacks on her community’s health.

“I live under a mile from Little Blue – it’s 1,600 acres of poison. We’re not looking for any cuts to the EPA. They’re our only protection in this,” she said.

Will you contact your senators today and tell them to vote against any measures that will hamstring EPA’s critical work protecting Americans’ health? Congress should let the EPA do its job – protecting public health by enforcing pollution safeguards.