Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Regulating Native Americans' emissions in Arizona
Facts are missing
The facts in George Will’s column of July 8, “George F. Will: The regulatory heavy hand — again?” [seattletimes.com] are either missing, distorted or flat-out wrong.
Missing is the fact that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet acted on the Navajo Generating Station (NGS). Our work has involved consultation with industry and tribes on a plan that protects health, follows the law and benefits tribal economies.
Will also ignores that last aspect: upgrades at NGS would not only slash air pollution — they also stand to create jobs. The “costs” are investments in pollution-control technology, and in workers who put that technology in place and keep it running. Cutting emissions means cleaner air; it can also mean new jobs and long-term economic benefits from better health and clearer skies.
Will distorts facts by claiming that upgrades would have minimal impact on air pollution. The NGS emits tens of thousands of tons of pollution a year including dangerous emissions like air toxins, acid gases and particle pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart attacks and even premature death. Its proximity to the Grand Canyon threatens a crucial economic driver, and analysis confirms that pollution has a significant negative economic impact in that area as well as in other communities.
And Will is flat out wrong in his “price” estimates. His figure assumes the strictest outcome imaginable, an old tactic used to inflate costs and convince Americans that they must choose between their health and the economy. But Americans know better.
Over EPA’s 40-year history, we’ve cut millions of tons of pollution, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and delivering more than a trillion dollars in health benefits to Americans. In that time, our economy has grown by more than 200 percent.
“Clean air, what price?” is not a question that benefits the local tribes or the Arizona economy, which would gain much more from job-creating investments in healthier air.
— Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, Seattle