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Chamber Viewpoint: Doing good for the environment and economy is possible

Much has been written about the environment and pollution in the Mid-Oho Valley.

I think we all would agree that the goal is a clean and healthy environment. Pollution and the environment are not issues isolated to the Washington and Wood counties’ region. Pollution is a topic of discussion in urban areas dealing with emissions from automobiles and trucks.

The environment is an issue throughout the Rust Belt states, home to thousands of manufacturing plants. Pollution is an issue for those who live and work near large-scale poultry farms or large agricultural complexes. Environmental issues are a concern in the southern and western states where water resources are strained as more and more people flock to those areas.

Recently, the focus was on environmental issues as Earth Day was observed In Marietta and throughout the United States. And around the world the debate continues over global climate change, or as some say, global warming. As Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote, “As the nation observed Earth Day on Saturday (April 22) the debate over global climate change reached a fever pitch.

“Wherever you stand on that issue, it raises interesting questions about science, the environment, and mankind’s role in it. Many would have us believe the debate is over whether we have a clean environment or a strong economy.”

Clean environment or strong economy? Clean air or jobs? Do we have to make a choice? Environmental issues are complex and challenging. Information and studies are filled with terminology and technologies that few people can understand. So how do we measure our environment and assess our risk? Through a comprehensive view that would take into account the many factors that impact air, water, soil, and health conditions. Health risks should include factors beyond water and air pollution. For example, there is a high rate of smoking among residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley. Obesity and lack of exercise are also health risks. Studies need to take into account life style choices. Using the best scientific and risk assessment information available and with consideration to human health, economic impacts, and future effects of pollution control initiatives already under way can result in a cleaner environment without forcing the choice between the environment or jobs.

Tom Donohue’s article in the April 25, weekly concluded with, “We don’t have to make a choice between economic growth and environmental preservation. We can — and should — do both. American business has a strong track record of growing the economy while improving the environment. Over the past 35 years, it has spent $3 trillion making our air, land, and water the cleanest it’s ever been through innovation and voluntary action.

Let’s take a stand for the environment, but let’s do it with commonsense principles.”

Charlotte Keim is president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, 316 Third St., Marietta. Chamber Viewpoint appears every other Monday on the Opinion page.


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