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Lone Star Green

Pro-lifer’s war on the EPA a morally bankrupt case

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Yet when Luminant — already staggering under a deteriorating credit rating and ever-diminishing natural gas prices — threatened to shut down two coal-fired plants and lay off 500 workers, it was the EPA who blinked, setting to work loosening those rules and offering more pollution allowances to Texas utilities. (Someone obviously forgot to tell the jobs-first crowd that the typical pollution-limiting scrubber represents 100 full-time jobs and two years of labor.)

Like our concluding national love affair with tobacco, we’ve known for a long time that coal power isn’t really as cheap as we believe. We destroy mountains and smother valleys and streams to mine it. The pollution the plants give off is an early death sentence for as many as 36,000 U.S. residents annually, and we’ve only just begun to dramatically change the planet’s climate in large part because of the burning of coal. But the soot from coal-fired plants isn’t only clogging lungs and poisoning hearts. Increasingly diabetes and obesity, epidemic in San Antonio and beyond, are implicated. Mice fed a healthy diet in a lab at Ohio State University and exposed to fine-particulate air pollution akin to what exists in urban areas across the United States saw significant increases in their blood sugar, inflammation-related proteins, and fat cells. And that matters to roughly half of those lining up every day to have their prescriptions filled or blood levels checked at the brightly painted Davila Pharmacy on San Antonio’s Westside. That’s how prevalent diabetes is in this neighborhood, according to pharmacy assistant Isabel Salay.

Yet in Washington, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is taking on abortion with one hand while dismantling the Clean Air Act — rules aimed at protecting the born and unborn from smog damage as well as autism-suspect mercury and other air toxics — with the other. The White House estimates two of the bills Cantor has advanced represent a combined 32,000 premature deaths. And here in Texas? How to justify Perry’s pledge to “always err on the side of life” against his campaign against public-health protections?

Clearly the champions of the unborn have morally flatlined. •


Lone Star Green appears monthly in the Current.


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