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Less Insurance and More Pollution

Don Rose 14 March 2017 No Comment

Trumpcare–the proposed, so-called replacement for the Affordable Care Act–is being exposed daily as a catastrophe, knocking another 15 million  or so people off the insurance rolls, increasing costs for folks 50 and older while giving millions in tax breaks to millionaires and their fellow one-percenters. Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman calls it “a sick joke of a health plan.”

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But while Trumpcare assaults us on the one hand, Trump’s policies his appointees are conspiring to make us less healthy as a nation by rolling back previous presidential directives, regulations and legislation aimed at reducing air and water pollution, among other ills. We’re being squeezed in a health-care vice.

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, a charter member of the Flat Earth Society, says he doesn’t believe that carbon dioxide emissions have anything to do with climate change–disavowing decades of scientific evidence.

Okay–let’s set aside the concept of man-made climate change. Let’s go back more than a half century, before we used the term “global warming” to predict planetary disasters like flood, drought and famine. Even then most people understood that air and water pollution were poisoning us slowly–or in some cases rapidly, like smog increasing asthma. Back then they would still understand the damage lead in the water was doing to the people of Flint, MI.

Gradually, the more the understanding of pollution sunk into the public consciousness, we began to develop means of reducing it. The EPA was created in 1970 to set air and water standards–as well as newer problems such as monitoring radiation from nuclear power. Those were standards intended initially to protect our health by reducing the carbon emissions and other hazards.

Now we’re about to throw it all into reverse. Right off the bat Trump issued a presidential order erasing Barack Obama’s ban on the coal mining industry dumping its mining wastes into rivers and streams. This little boon to the industry will not create jobs, but it will cut costs for Big Mining–forget the cost of sickness generated by polluted water.

Another major rollback with clear damage to our lungs, to say nothing of the planet, is to weaken fuel efficiency standards and raise emission caps for automobiles–which the auto industry agreed to but is now reveling in the rollback, which will increase oil consumption and send more poisonous exhaust into the air. Thank you, EPA–bye-bye Clean Air Act.

Trump’s increase in the military budget will slash the EPA budget in half, eliminating funding for most clean air and clean water programs including marine pollution, pesticides, oil spills and leaking underground oil tanks. Fewer fracking controls will  send more methane into our air. Take a whiff,  Trump voters.

This says nothing about Trump’s putting guns in the hands of people certified as mentally disturbed. Gunshots also are a health hazard, if you hadn’t heard.

We’re back to song-satirist Tom Leher’s ditty “Pollution,” which admonishes us, “Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air.” Especially if you’ve been dropped off the health insurance rolls.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer
image former Niles Notre Dame and Bradley star Jim Les, now coaching UC Davis in the NCAA Tournament

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