Clean, quality air inalienable right

Published 10:25 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

When our founding fathers wrote that all Americans had certain inalienable rights they were trying to secure key liberties that they felt all citizens deserved.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were chief among these. It would have been impossible for the authors of the Declaration of Independence to know there was at least one more they should have included: The right to breath clean air.

This may sound like a no-brainer but the reality is that here in the Tri-State’s Ohio River valley countless studies have shown the air we breath isn’t nearly as clean as we deserve.

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A study last year has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to followup with an eight-week study at Whitwell Elementary.

We are interested to see the results but caution the EPA not to take these results as definitive conclusion that the air is clean or not. Many of the industries cited in the first report as emitters of unhealthy air — AK Steel and Kentucky Electric Steel in Ashland, Ky. along with Steel of West Virginia, Inc. and Huntington Alloys in Huntington, W.Va. — have idled or significantly altered production.

The EPA has promised that, if these results again show high levels of contaminants that were documented before, including benzene, manganese and chromium, that it would take steps to correct the problems.

We hope the EPA lives up to this and continues to monitor our air quality.

Americans expect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But without clean air it is impossible to have the first three.