The current trend by the Environmental Protection Agency to jettison regulations that protect our environment and safeguard the public's health is something I am deeply concerned about and feel all Americans should be too.

My recent trip to India can serve as an example of what the world can, and indeed, does look like without environmental protections. I can tell you -- it isn't pretty.

In the region I visited, the air pollution was so dense, I never saw a blue sky the entire time I was there. I developed a persistent cough and nasal issues in my short 11-day stay that lasted several weeks after my return. The foliage, buildings, cars and everything were covered in a thick film of pollution, making everything look drab and filthy.

I witnessed people dumping trash cans full of debris directly into the already heavily polluted river we were gathering water from to "bless and purify" a world peace event site. It is customary to throw trash on the ground, not in a trash can, so mounds of trash literally accumulate everywhere.

We had to boil or buy water to avoid drinking contaminated water that comes out of the tap. I saw people routinely defecate and urinate in public and we had to be careful not to step into countless open sewers in the city of Bhubaneswar. I think I can safely conclude people's health (both physical and emotional) is negatively affected by the lack of regulations curbing these practices. It certainly affected mine.

I recent read two articles that discuss how the current head of our EPA is not only ignoring but literally dismissing his own EPA scientists and instead listening to coal, fossil fuel, and chemical industry lobbyists (and donors) and reversing regulations that protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans (by taking away protections of streams) and allowing a neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants and children to be used.

These are just two examples of actual cuts to environmental regulations that are detrimental to a huge number of Americans including our most vulnerable. The pace at which environmental protections are being rolled back is at historic heights. One article also cites the highly respected London School of Economics' study that found that the idea that "environmental regulations cost jobs" is not born out by research but is "statistically insignificant." "Higher monetized benefits" were found to outweigh "monetized costs" when regulations are in place is the conclusion of our own Office of Management and Budget when they studied the U.S. environmental regulations of the last 10 years.

I hope my fellow citizens will take the time to read about these changes at EPA. It might help us arrive at a shared reality on some very important issues that are often reduced to sound bites and slogans that may sound persuasive on the surface but have far different and quite serious realities upon closer inspection.

Recently, the World Bank concluded that environmental degradation is costing India $80 billion annually and accounts for 23 percent of the nation's child mortality. Let this serve as a lesson. Protecting our environment is not detrimental to job creation and has monetary, psychological and physical benefits for all of us.

We in the U.S. need to get this through our heads and let our elected officials know we demand clean air, clean water and a clean environment. Please do this at the local, state, and national level. In fact, Napa County is currently asking for input on a Climate Action Plan. Please write Jason Hade at jason.hade@napacounty.org and ask that mandatory steps are implemented to reduce our local carbon footprint and help protect our planet from disaster.

It is my view that environmental regulations will improve countless lives; human and otherwise. And if you don't believe that, I have one final piece of reading, a New York magazine piece, “When Will the Planet Be Too Hot for Humans? Much, Much Sooner Than You Imagine … Plague, famine, heat no human can survive. This is not science fiction but what scientists, when they’re not being cautious, fear could be our future.”

Beth Mattei


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