Set The Unborn Free From Pollution’s Tyranny: Oppose SB 58

Set The Unborn Free From Pollution’s Tyranny: Oppose SB 58 December 4, 2013

by Rev. Steve Fortenberry

There’s an important debate going on right now in Ohio’s legislature about whether to gut some good laws so that a couple of utilities can get more than their fair share of our state’s economic pie.  That’s bad enough.  But these efforts, as contained in a bill introduced by Sen. Seitz, SB 58, would make our air dirtier in the process.  This corporate-welfare bill must be stopped.

The good laws Sen. Seitz wants to trash, SB 221 passed in 2008 and Gov. Kasich’s SB 315, have helped all of us in Ohio use energy more efficiently and have increased the diversity of our energy mix to make a place for clean energy.  Thanks to these laws we have all become better stewards of our energy resources.  Indeed, the efficiency program saves $500 million a year according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  That’s money in our pockets, helping families pay the bills.

Something that has gotten a bit lost in the shuffle in this debate about whether to gut these good laws to benefit a few is the fact that doing so would gut programs that cut pollution, pollution that hurts our kids – including the unborn.

These laws have been helping to set our kids free from pollution’s tyranny.  But kids don’t vote, nor do they contribute to reelection campaigns, so it seems that their concerns are not being factored in by Sen. Seitz. Let’s help him do the right thing by speaking up on behalf of the ones most affected and whose voices are so easily ignored by those in power: the children.

According to ACEEE, the energy efficiency provisions alone — not even counting the clean energy program – reduce pollution each year by the following:

♦       over 40,000 tons of soot (Sulfur Dioxide or SO2);

♦       over 9,000 tons of smog forming pollutants (Nitrogen Oxides or NOx);

♦       over 1,000 pounds of mercury.

A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth.  But here’s a quick rundown on what smog, soot, and mercury can do to the unborn and newborns.

x Soot has been linked to birth defects, low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and infant deaths.

x Smog (ozone), according to a recent study as reported by the Wall Street Journal, creates “a statistically significant increased risk of premature birth and preeclampsia, a condition characterized by an increase in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke and death of the mother or baby.”

x Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that unborn babies are especially vulnerable to in their mother’s wombs, causing developmental disabilities and brain damage that in turn can lead to lowered intelligence and learning problems.

Air pollution doesn’t just harm the unborn, obviously.  Children are also quite vulnerable; here is what dirty air can do to kids, according to the American Lung Association’s review of scientific findings:

x Reduce lung function by up to 20% for the rest of their lives.

x Put healthy, active kids at risk for developing asthma and make asthma worse for those who already have it.

x Increasing coughing and bronchitis, and put kids at greater risk for respiratory infections.

Bottom line: SB58 will not only make our kids sickly and sicker, it will reverse the health gains we are starting to make.

Now we could cut this pollution another way, by installing expensive pollution control equipment to the tune of over $1.8 billion.  Or we could leave well enough alone, not spend this $1.8 billion, continue to save $500 million a year, and protect the unborn and children from dirty air.

As parents and concerned adults, our loyalty must first be to our children, and this dirty-air corporate-welfare bill, SB 58, is a betrayal of their trust.  As for the government, its most fundamental job is to protect its citizens.  Our government must free our children from the threat pollution poses to a healthy, productive life.  Their future is a sacred trust we hold in our hands; we dare not constrain their liberty to live the lives God intends for them.  To remain true, we must oppose SB 58 and pollution’s tyranny.

Rev. Steve Fortenberry is a Presbyterian pastor and founder of Goodness Grows. He lives and ministers in North Lima, OH and a Creation Care Champion of The Evangelical Environmental Network.

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