The Relief Report ®
A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202/543-5975, E-mail [email protected] Web http://www.nationalcenter.org
The EPA's proposed new standards for particulate matter (soot) and ground level ozone (smog) may place children and minorities at greater risk. The EPA has suggested that some 250,000 cases of serious respiratory problems in children could be prevented each year by imposing more stringent air quality standards. But pollution is only one of many "triggers" to asthma attacks. The most common triggers include pollen, mold, animal dander, certain medicines such as aspirin, cold air, exercise and common dust mites. In fact, some evidence suggests that outdoor air quality has little to do with rising respiratory health problems. According to the European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations the worldwide increase in asthma is probably linked to changes in western lifestyle which involve greater time indoors. Unfortunately, the EPA's higher particulate matter and ground level ozone standards may have the perverse effect of placing children, particularly African-American children, at greater risk. "The hospitalization rate for asthma among African-American children is twice that of whites, but socioeconomic status is a more significant risk factor than ethnicity or race," said Floyd Malveaux, Dean of Howard University Medical School. The lower socioeconomic status of African-American children means that they frequently lack access to health care and live in poor conditions, with higher exposures to dust mites and cockroach allergens. Unfortunately, the tremendous costs of the EPA proposal will translate into job losses and this will translate into a loss of socio-economic status for many black urban dwellers. The bottom line is that mom and dad need their jobs to ensure that their children have access to health care and good living conditions.
Speakers at a February 3-4 closed-door meeting of the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), a group composed of foundation and corporate backers of the environmental movement, called on environmental groups to use children's health concerns as a tactic for promoting their regulatory agenda. Participants in the meeting were shown a commercial featuring a dramatization of a parent taking an asthma-stricken child to an emergency room. The voice-over said, "The cost of dirty air is children who literally cannot breathe." EPA Administrator Carol Browner underscored the message of the commercial by noting that reports of childhood asthma are rising. Perhaps even more illuminating, speakers at the meeting seemed to suggest that the environmental movement is losing ground to free market environmentalism. For example, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) suggested that pollution taxes be advanced as a way to deal with pollution not only because they would raise revenues, but because they could be sold as a "market mechanism." Another speaker suggested that the environmental movement must learn to talk about "local control" or they will lose the debate. Devolution of regulatory authority has long been advocated by free market environmentalists. The most surprising revelation of the meeting, however, was who environmentalists consider to be friends and foes. On the foe list was Senator John Chafee (R-RI). On the friend list: Speaker Newt Gingrich (particularly on the Endangered Species Act), John Kasich (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS). For more information about the Environmental Grantmakers Association, contact the Rockefeller Family Fund at (212)373-4252.
Given that Republicans were accused of conspiring with big industry to roll back 25 years of environmental progress during the 104th Congress, one would think that they would be more sensitive to the needs of mom and pop operations. Unfortunately, Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) will soon introduce an Endangered Species Act reform bill which addresses the needs of industry at the expense of small landowners. For example, the bill would expand the role of habitat conservation plans (HCPs). HCPs are of concern not only because they in effect establish federal land use planning, but because they grant industry enormous advantages over mom and pop operations. Since only very large land owners have the resources to develop and negotiate the terms of HCPs, they tend to reflect he interests of industry, often at the expense of small landowners. For a copy of The National Center for Public Policy Research's comments on the Kempthorne bill contact Chad Cowan at (202) 543-4110.
All editorial correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Court, N.E. * Washington, D.C. 20002 * Tel 202/543-4110 * Fax 202/543-5975 * E-mail [email protected] * Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copyright 1998, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive all National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org or send a message to [email protected].###