Air Pollution Essay

2818 words - 12 pages

Air pollutionHuman beings rely on air to live and breathe, yet they are also largely responsible for creating the pollution that makes that air unhealthy for themselves and all living things. Air pollution is caused by the release of toxic or damaging particles and gases into the atmosphere. While few scientists disagree that air pollution poses a serious threat to the environment, policy makers and citizens are often at odds as to how to address the problem.Something in the AirThere are a variety of causes of air pollution. As humans burn the fossil fuel that powers cars and heat homes-fuels such as natural gas and coal-miniscule particles escape into the atmosphere. These particles form ...view middle of the document...

Air pollution is not limited to the outdoors. We can pollute our homes and work places with fumes from cooking devices and cigarette smoke. House paint can contain polluting chemicals such as lead. Home heating materials can contain dangerous asbestos, a fire-resistant material that can cause cancer or an inflammation of the lungs called asbestosis if inhaled.Fortunately, as people came to better understand the causes and seriousness of air pollution, preventative and protective measures were taken. In 1963, the United States passed the Clean Air Act, which required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create and impose a series of rules for limiting the amount ofpollutants industries may release. However, there are some powerful opponents to both the Clean Air Act and the EPA.Industry vs. AtmosphereDecades of conscientious work has resulted in some great strides for the environment. There has been North Carolina's Clean Air Campaign, which promotes the use of low-emission vehicles that do not solely rely on fossil fuels. In 2002, Chula Vista, California, implemented the CO2 Reduction Plan, a local initiative for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The environmentally friendly redesign of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C., halved the building's energy consumption and reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 170,000 pounds per year.Despite this progress, there were multiple setbacks to the effort to improve air quality in the past ten years. Many politicians and business executives have complained that environmental protection requirements imposed by the EPA, the Clean Air Act, and other legislation are difficult and expensive to implement and put American industries at a disadvantage when competing with foreign companies whose government impose fewer restrictions. During the administration of President George W. Bush (1946-), EPA rules were laxly enforced and legal action against polluters rarely sought. In 2004, EPA-enforced penalties were their lowest since 1990.As of this writing, the EPA faced a direct challenge. Representative John Sullivan of Oklahoma is working to pass the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011. The so-called TRAIN Act aims to set up an interagency committee that produces cost-benefit analyses of key EPA regulations with the purpose of showing how these regulations negatively affect consumers, small businesses, big businesses, and all levels of government. Sullivan and his fellow proponents of the TRAIN Act believe the bill would...

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