Ever see a child suffering from asthma? In some, it’s coughing, wheezing or slowing to catch a deep breath. In others, it’s a desperate struggle to suck in air without getting any. They can turn blue, lose consciousness.
For parents it means carrying inhalers, making certain that school staff knows what to do in case of an attack and trips to the ER. Some children recover; in others, asthma continues into adulthood. A few never recover.
Many factors contribute to this sometimes fatal respiratory disease. But the National Institutes of Health says air pollution – mainly from vehicle emissions – is the leading cause.
Such pollution is worse in the San Joaquin Valley than anywhere else in California. So is childhood asthma. Statewide, 1 child in 10 suffers from asthma. In Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties it’s 1-in-8; in Merced County it’s 1-in-6.
That’s why air-pollution rules are so utterly important here. It’s why we cannot accept the idiotic attack on California’s stricter gas-mileage standards being perpetrated by the EPA’s so-called director, Scott Pruitt.
President Donald Trump’s fragile ego demands that anything the Obama administration accomplished must be eradicated. So, on Tuesday, Pruitt – a swamp creature who doesn’t mind taking expensive favors from oil company lobbyists – abandoned the vehicle-mileage targets set by Obama’s EPA in consultation with California officials.
Why? Because while having vehicles that burn less gas will be better for asthma sufferers, it will be bad for oil companies who will sell less pollution, uh, gas.
In our Valley, this is less about climate change than about life and death. In 2015, 393 Californians died from asthma; an estimated 100 children. That’s why our state must fight the Trump administration, tooth and nail.
We can make a good case. California was the nation’s first entity to create emissions rules; that’s why the federal Clean Air Act allowed us to set our own rules and then allowed 12 other states to adopt them. Together, we cover 35 percent of the nation’s car market.
Making cars to two sets of standards would be too costly, so automakers make them to meet California’s higher and more expensive standards. That’s why some are pushing the Trump administration to do away with California’s mpg standards. That would also allow Pruitt’s buddies in big oil to sell more gas – a win-win in their estimate.
Tuesday, Pruitt promised to “re-examine” the California waiver, a warning he will try to force us to accept the dirtier, deadlier federal standards.
Just last week, Pruitt was in Stanislaus County to explain how he was going to give farmers relief from burdensome regulations. If this is what he’s got in mind, no thanks.
And don’t forget how some of Trump’s other promises have turned out.
He promised to make us winners, then provoked China into an unnecessary trade war that specifically targets our Valley with increased tariffs on almonds, walnuts, wine and fresh fruit. He has made those working in our fields, orchards and dairy barns fearful over punitive immigration raids targeting law-abiding, but undocumented workers.
Now, he’s targeting our air, and with it our children, all in an effort to make Pruitt’s oil-company benefactors happier and richer.
We have a better idea. Make our air cleaner, not dirtier. Make kids healthier, not sicker.
Voters must fight, too – removing anyone who facilitates Trump’s destructive agenda and self-dealing policies. Stand up to Trump, or get out.