In Utah, air quality has become quite the hot topic lately. Along the Wasatch Front, there is a paradigm shift happening; people are owning up to their contributions to our complex air pollution dilemma.
The same people who accept responsibility for their actions, however, are frustrated. Many feel that the public is being asked to address its share of the pollution pie, when our elected officials do nothing but coddle big polluters, and vote down key air-quality legislation.
Recently, Congressman Chris Stewart caused a public outcry when he attacked peer-reviewed science that is the basis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s air pollution regulations. On his website, Stewart calls these studies "secret science," and has subpoenaed the EPA, "…forcing the agency to release the secret science it uses as the basis for costly air regulations."
This is coming from the Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart.
In making these statements, Chris Stewart has shown that he not only does not understand the process of peer-reviewed science, but that he also doesn’t understand the environment, he doesn’t understand the air-quality crisis his home state is facing, and he doesn’t understand his constituents.
On Sept. 4, Stewart met with a group of air quality activists. In this meeting, we urged Stewart to work with us, and not against us. We are requesting that Stewart does everything in his power to address the air-quality situation in his home state.
When we asked Stewart why he was attacking the EPA over its air-pollution regulations, he repeatedly referred to the costs associated with pollution control and prevention (costs that will be borne by polluters, not the taxpayers). We are also requesting that Stewart choose his constituents and our health over profits. We would like him to remember whom he represents.
I believe that Stewart is treading on thin ice here. Stewart is up for re-election in November 2014 and state Sen. Luz Robles recently announced her candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District seat he holds. If he keeps attacking the EPA and clean air regulations, he’s going to find out if his constituents are willing to take a stand at the polls and vote for a candidate who supports clean air.
Only time will tell if this is a gamble that Stewart is willing to take. I assume that Sen. Robles wouldn’t mind if Stewart continues to beat the anti-clean-air drum.
Stewart has said he is willing to hold a private meeting with anyone who might have questions or concerns that they’d like to present him. If you would like to ask Congressman Stewart any questions, or present any concerns about air quality in Utah, please go to https://stewart.house.gov/contact/request-a-meeting and request a private meeting.
If you do get a chance to meet with him, please let him know that we want a Congress member who stands up for science and clean air.
Carl Ingwell is the founder and president of the U. Student Clean Air Network.
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