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Support cap and trade legislation

By Staff | Dec 10, 2009

To the editor,

While many Republicans are predicting an increase in energy costs if we pass the cap and trade legislation, they are missing the big picture. In fact, the legislation will save exponentially more money than it will cost, as was seen with the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Predicted to cost $5.7 billion, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which used a cap and trade market system, turned out to cost just $1.6 billion to cut more than four million tons of sulfur dioxide. But savings in health care costs were found to be as much as $70 billion dollars, according to a 2003 EPA study. That is a savings of 43 dollars for every dollar spent.

With many scientists warning that climate change threatens the lives of billions of people this century, and could accelerate out of control unless we cap and reduce emissions very fast, the savings will likely be vastly greater with investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Many larger cities in the United States have unsafe air pollution that is increasing with the temperatures that are a precursor to smog. By switching from dirty coal to clean solar and wind energy, air pollution will be reduced significantly.

Burning coal kills an estimated 24,000 people each year in the United States from particulate air pollution according to the American Lung Association. This is equivalent to eight Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack deaths every year. But these people are separated around the country, dying in hospital wards along with an estimated 38,200 non-fatal heart attack victims and 554,000 asthma sufferers whose illness was caused by burning coal, according to the American Lung Association.

People do not see the deaths in one dramatic event, and are not mobilized to action as happened with the Sept. 11 attacks. But they are real, as is the threat of climate change to our national security that prompted the U.S. Pentagon to call global warming a greater risk to national security than terrorism in a 2004 report.

And that is just burning coal. The cap and trade legislation will also reduce the burning of oil, and cut down on the $700 billion that we spend every year to buy petroleum from other countries. Electric cars and trains charged with solar and wind generated energy will be pollution-free.

Having seen the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, and studied the horrific predictions if we continue on our current path, I implore citizens to get behind the cap and trade legislation. The science proving climate change is the most documented of any issue in history. We must take action, before it is too late.

Chad Kister

Nelsonville, Ohio