By Leslie Kuhl
I would like to applaud Ken Blackwell’s plan to modernize the health
insurance available to Ohio citizens and ensure that no citizen of Ohio
is without health insurance. The idea of working toward a healthier
Ohio, without raising state income taxes, interests me greatly.
Blackwell is my choice for governor as a result of this issue and his
solid, conservative values. But where health care is concerned, I also
believe clean air must be considered.
Neither Democrat Ted
Strickland nor Republican Blackwell seem to notice that the health of
Ohio’s citizens really cannot improve if large industrial polluters are
systematically granted their wishes under the guise of making
regulation more efficient. Paid lobbyists sent by industry pester our
representatives to the point of distraction to achieve goals that may
diverge greatly from what is in the best interest of Ohio’s citizens.
This time-consuming and costly behind-the-scenes jockeying doesn’t
sound like efficient regulation to me.
Ohio’s economy is an
issue of paramount importance in this election. But I wonder if
granting the Ohio industries an environmental cookie cutter to carve
out their legislative agenda really creates good jobs in Ohio? This is
a common false dilemma: that business and environmental protection are
wholly incompatible and a governor must grant one side’s agenda or the
For a long time citizens of our area have simply accepted
as a necessary evil a “trample the weak and step over the dead”
approach to pollution. Marietta residents hope that both candidates for
governor will decide to champion the issue of clean air. We expect
Ohio’s next governor to find a way to provide business interests with
positive assistance without sacrificing our children’s safety.
statesmen from Columbus have tried to suggest that we’re all equally
concerned about the health of the public, particularly children.
Another permutation of this notion arose back in March and went
something like this: We all breathe the same air and, therefore, we all
have the same concern for its quality. That idea is absurd. Are these
men’s children really similarly situated with children here? I don’t
My children are under age 6 — in the midst of their
neurological developmental years. Are theirs? Do their children live
within a five-mile radius of one of the largest emitters of toxic air
pollutants in the entire country, as mine do? When was the last time
either of these men took their 2-year-old child to have blood drawn to
determine his manganese level? When was the last time these gentlemen
drove their toddler to a neurotoxicologist three hours away to be
examined for an alert level manganese exposure? My family has had to do
both in the past year.
In the years that Strickland has
represented our district, though he may have tried, he was unable to
correct the air pollution problem here. If a candidate really wants
voters in Washington County, a district with rampant air pollution, to
consider voting for him, then he must address valid environmental
concerns seriously. If Ohio’s next governor seeks to help Ohio citizens
live healthier lives, it will not be done by catering to major
industrial air polluters.
Parents in Southeast Ohio are asking
Ohio’s next governor to enforce tighter controls on industrial air
pollution. Like those vulnerable souls lost and made ill in the 1948
Donora, Pa., air pollution crisis, citizens of the Mid-Ohio Valley are
acutely aware that we are put in danger if industrial polluters have
too much influence over our legislators. Ohio may freely favor
industrial businesses with tax cuts, tax credits or other perks. But
this state must not allow Ohio families’ health and safety to be
threatened by actively permitting excessive air pollution.
Pollution-driven illnesses drive up health care costs for all Ohio
It is a fact that toxic manganese, chromium and lead
dust is sent into the air of Marietta schoolchildren daily. Air
monitoring conducted by the Ohio EPA revealed manganese levels in our
local air 10 to 25 times higher than recommended. Parents here have no
idea what their children’s toxic exposure is unless they get tests by
making costly trips to doctors and phlebotomists.
I hope that as
they examine ways to lower the cost of health insurance, both
candidates to become Ohio’s next governor will examine the Ohio EPA’s
Title V permitting process for hazardous air pollution. The goal should
not be merely to make it more efficient, but to decrease permitted
limits to safer, more reasonable levels. If Ohio’s new governor reduces
toxic industrial air emissions today, he will significantly reduce the
need for medical treatment and the likelihood of Ohio residents
contracting illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and cancer that are
costly and painful to treat.
I also support Ken Blackwell’s
candidacy because he is pro-Life. Yet, the issue of caring for children
also requires we protect those same babies once they’re born. Policies
that permit industrial businesses to send tons of dangerous toxins into
our children’s air are wrong for today’s Ohio. Parents want our next
governor to make the environmental landscape of Ohio safer for our
I hope it is not too late for both candidates for
governor to carefully consider the issue of clean air. Nobody wants
poor air quality, but some of us live a whole lot closer to it than
others. Why? Because we have been unable to convince an Ohio governor
to do anything about it.
Leslie Kuhl is a registered Republican in Marietta, Ohio.