By Christopher B. Daly
Those of us who live downwind of the Rust Belt states have been breathing their fumes since the early days of the Industrial Revolution. We have done a pretty good job (I know, I know: we have a ways to go) to clean up our own skies. Here in Massachusetts, we have a mix of nuclear, fossil-fuel, and alternative energies, and we have a comparatively high-tech economy that does not depend on digging up long-dead plants and dinosaurs and burning the carbonic residue. So, the last thing we want to do is have our skies polluted by your fossil-fuel plants.
Now, eight Northeast governors are asking the EPA to do its duty and actually protect the environment by cracking down on the Midwest sources of pollution. From the Times:
The East Coast states. . . have for more than 15 years been subject to stricter air pollution requirements than many other parts of the country. Their governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes — allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States.
And, Midwesterners — While you are cleaning up your act, please do me a favor: Tell your industry trade groups to stop buying time on television to sell me on the virtues of “clean coal.” There is no such thing as clean coal and never will be.
Let’s grow up and move on. Don’t waste your time trying to cling to fossil fuels. The sooner you give them up, the better off you’ll be — not to mention everyone downwind.
That is a power plant cooling tower in Kentucky. Below is a photo I took outside Xian, China, last spring. Believe me, we really do not want to sink to their level. The way to out-compete China is to pull away in terms of cleanliness, not dirtiness. (This was not a stormy day, either. Just another day in China.)