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In response: There’s a better way to keep air clean, lights on

A commentary in the News Tribune on Nov. 27, from Minnesota state Sen. David Osmek ("Minnesota's all-of-the-above strategy makes most sense"), sought to connect Minnesota's frequently good air quality scores in the annual American Lung Associatio...

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A commentary in the News Tribune on Nov. 27, from Minnesota state Sen. David Osmek (“Minnesota’s all-of-the-above strategy makes most sense”), sought to connect Minnesota’s frequently good air quality scores in the annual American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report with the use of coal to generate electricity.
It is true Minnesotans enjoy healthier air than many others in the nation. It is also true Minnesotans use increasingly diversified sources of electric power, including wind power, hydroelectric and nuclear. In the past decade, cleaner, less-polluting sources of electricity have grown in the state as coal burning has declined. As this transition has taken place, our electric power has remained both reliable and affordable.While Minnesota has earned good grades in our annual report card on air quality, this should not be misinterpreted to suggest our work is finished or that burning coal is a clean source of electricity. The American Lung Association has fought long and hard to get national air quality standards strengthened. We also have fought to strengthen the cleanup of major sources of air pollution and carbon emissions, especially coal-fired power plants.Let’s be clear: Burning coal generates both traditional air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are a serious health concern. Exposure to traditional air pollution can cause wheezing and coughing, can trigger asthma attacks, and can even cause heart attacks and premature death. Greenhouse gases cause climate change, which threatens our health through the increased risks of wildfires and drought, longer mosquito and tick seasons, and extremes in weather.Thanks to the Clean Air Act and state initiatives, smokestack emissions have been reduced here in Minnesota and across the country. That’s an accomplishment of which we all can be proud.But just as in school, good grades on one report card are no reason to stop working to do even better. As we learn more about the health effects of air pollution, federal air quality standards are getting tougher. Minnesota should continue to seek cleaner sources of electrical power to ensure that our scores are high and that our air remains clear and healthy for everyone. Robert Moffitt of St. Paul is a spokesman for the American Lung Association in Minnesota.A commentary in the News Tribune on Nov. 27, from Minnesota state Sen. David Osmek (“Minnesota’s all-of-the-above strategy makes most sense”), sought to connect Minnesota’s frequently good air quality scores in the annual American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report with the use of coal to generate electricity.
It is true Minnesotans enjoy healthier air than many others in the nation. It is also true Minnesotans use increasingly diversified sources of electric power, including wind power, hydroelectric and nuclear. In the past decade, cleaner, less-polluting sources of electricity have grown in the state as coal burning has declined. As this transition has taken place, our electric power has remained both reliable and affordable.While Minnesota has earned good grades in our annual report card on air quality, this should not be misinterpreted to suggest our work is finished or that burning coal is a clean source of electricity. The American Lung Association has fought long and hard to get national air quality standards strengthened. We also have fought to strengthen the cleanup of major sources of air pollution and carbon emissions, especially coal-fired power plants.Let’s be clear: Burning coal generates both traditional air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are a serious health concern. Exposure to traditional air pollution can cause wheezing and coughing, can trigger asthma attacks, and can even cause heart attacks and premature death. Greenhouse gases cause climate change, which threatens our health through the increased risks of wildfires and drought, longer mosquito and tick seasons, and extremes in weather.Thanks to the Clean Air Act and state initiatives, smokestack emissions have been reduced here in Minnesota and across the country. That’s an accomplishment of which we all can be proud.But just as in school, good grades on one report card are no reason to stop working to do even better. As we learn more about the health effects of air pollution, federal air quality standards are getting tougher. Minnesota should continue to seek cleaner sources of electrical power to ensure that our scores are high and that our air remains clear and healthy for everyone.Robert Moffitt of St. Paul is a spokesman for the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

Related Topics: ENVIRONMENTHEALTH
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