The Battle to Breathe

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In 1970, Midnight Cowboy won the Oscar for best picture, The Beatles broke up, U.S. troops invaded Cambodia, and the Clean Air Act was born. The law was designed to ensure that the air breathed by Americans was safe. For the first time, it restricted the amount of airborne pollutants like lead, carbon monoxide, and other nasties, from power plants and oil refineries.

Now, more than 30 years later, the EPA has changed some of its rules. Some say these changes will take a direct toll on the public’s health by allowing these same plants, mostly in the West and Midwest, to pollute more. A coalition of environmentalists and state lawmakers is taking this issue to court, suing the EPA for violating the core of the Clean Air Act.


Hilton Kelley, founder of Community In-Power Development Association in Port Arthur, Texas

Peter Lehner, Chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office

Scott Segal, director of he Electric Reliability Coordinating Council.