This Father’s Day, remember gift of clean air


by Ryan Busse

It's Father's Day and I am one very lucky dad. My wonderful wife and I have two amazing sons, ages 3 and 6. We live in the most beautiful state in the nation, surrounded by abundant wildlife and ample opportunities to hunt, fish, hike and play outside. I thank my lucky stars that courageous people led the charge to protect our clean water through legislation like the Clean Water Act. I thank the people who have protected our wonderful public lands and I thank those who continue the fight to protect our clean air now.

I am very lucky to live in a place where I don't have to run my sons to the emergency room because of pollution-induced asthma attacks, but many fathers are not so lucky. It's well-documented that millions of children nationally have asthma attacks directly linked to poor air quality. Sadly, infants and children have a higher rate of exposure to pollutants in the air because their immune systems and organs are still immature.

The battles to regulate polluters of the air are no different than the past battles over toxic rivers or public land giveaways to corporations. Thankfully someone fought those battles for us. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is working to strengthen clean air standards by reducing the amount of the toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic. This means that children across the nation will be able to play outside in sunny weather without worrying about getting sick. They'll spend more time in school, and more time being active. And nationwide, the new standards would save as much as $100 billion a year once they are fully implemented.

When our forefathers fought to restore our rivers, big polluters fought them at every turn. Today, many corporations are once again dragging their feet at the expense of our health. Rather than update their own processes, a step that would put more Americans to work, they are fighting to delay new clean air standards.

Delaying critical updates to these standards lets polluters off the hook and sends thousands of people to the hospital. Any action by Congress or the president to avoid or delay implementing new clean air and industrial pollution standards is an attack on the health of our families and communities and a handout to polluters. It's just that simple.

Last year, the Clean Air Act saved 17,000 lives, and multiple studies have demonstrated that efforts to clean up the air work. Using cleaner fuels and updating local air standards reduces asthma attacks in our kids and heart attacks and hospital visits in other vulnerable populations. And polls show that Americans support EPA efforts to protect our clean air.

Montanans are lucky to have two senators who understand the value and importance of clean air, Jon Tester and Max Baucus are standing up for our way of life. This year, I'd like to see all of Congress and the Obama administration work together to clean up the air – taking the basic steps that scientists and public health experts have long endorsed to improve air quality and protect the health of our kids, parents, and grandparents.

I can't think of a better Father's Day present.

Ryan Busse is a hunter and fisherman from Kalispell, where he lives with his wife Sara and sons, Lander and Badge. He is the chairperson of Montana Conservation Voters.