"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper on Friday, listing unalienable rights. "You can't have life and liberty if you have only dirty water to drink, and dirty air to breathe."
During a visit to the Community Education Building Library on May 6, 2022, Carper discussed the ways Delaware's leaders were looking to improve air quality, specifically by addressing cross-state pollution, which Carper said has a significant impact on Delaware's air.
"If you have little Delaware down here, and we don't pollute our air, and we don't pollute our water, but up here in Pennsylvania, they burn coal to create electricity, and when they burn coal, it puts up into the air, pollution, and the winds a lot of time blow this way...the pollution eventually comes down right here in Delaware," Carper said. "The quality of our air is not good. The quality is not what it should be, because these people aren't playing by the rules."
While Carper singled out Pennsylvania as an example of from where pollution might be drifting into Delaware, university of Delaware Assistant Professor Dwight Higgin said it's actually a much larger issue, with a much greater reach that needs to be addressed.
"According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environment, over 90% of Delaware's ozone pollution originates from other states," he said. "This is traveling, sometimes, as far as from the Midwest. Toxic air pollutants originating from power plants, industrial facilities, they impact our regional air quality very much. They impact it significantly."
The push is being made for the Biden Administration and the Environmental Protection agency to force the plants in question to engage the technology they, officials said in many cases, already had installed and just needed to turn on help reduce pollution.
But more important than just because it's easy to do, Higgin noted its a public health crisis, and pollution damages lung tissue, creates and aggravates respiratory issues, and makes individuals, especially children, more susceptible to infection.
"As a teacher, I have personally seen the impact air pollution has had on our next generation. Despite being home to more than 8,000 children and 48,000 adults who suffer from asthma--among other high risk groups--New Castle County received a failing air quality grade on ground level ozone pollution from the American Lung Association," said Kuumba Academy Charter School teacher Raequan Jones. "The costs of inaction is great. For every second that goes by with inaction, it costs about $4,700. To put that in perspective, each day, that equates to $400 million. And each year, that equates to about $148 billion. We cannot allow the...high level of air pollution to continue to be the norm for our children."
Carper said the fight is for enacting the strongest possible Cross State Air Pollution Rule is picking up steam, and soon Delaware's neighbors will have to be for more considerate or face costly action.
"Delaware is at the end of America’s tailpipe. All too often, it’s our most vulnerable and underserved communities that suffer the worst consequences of this pollution. That’s why it’s so important for us to strengthen the safeguards that protect Delaware families from cross-state air pollution and allow all of us to breathe easier," Carper said, adding everyone should follow one simple, but important rule. "The courts have now said, the Biden Administration has now said you've got to abide by the Golden Rule. You can't treat Delaware the way you wouldn't want to be treated. And what's going to happen is, we're going to have, in the years ahead, a lot cleaner air to breathe."