Let them breathe smog

It's easy for those who live upwind of a power plant to say air quality isn't important.

Over the last few months, Marylanders yearning for cleaner air — in a state where air quality is reckoned to be the worst on the East Coast — have had their hopes dashed not once but twice.

Shortly after assuming office, our incoming Gov. Larry Hogan scrapped the Maryland Department of the Environment's rulings that would have required coal-fired power plants to either install and use scrubbers, jettison coal in favor of a cleaner technology or shut down operations to reduce emissions of nitric oxide and sulphur dioxide ("Advocates urge Maryland to reinstate smog curb on power plants," June 29).

Then, as a Sun editorial noted,the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would have limited mercury and other emissions from coal-fired plants.

Speaking for the court's corporate cabal, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the EPA had not done an adequate cost-benefit analysis upon which to base its rules.

The Sun's countered that the potential health benefits of the mercury regulations outweigh the costs to industry by 10 to 1, according to recent research. In the face of the court and our governor's wrong-headed decisions, isn't it time to require any public official who votes, vetoes or rules against the air we breathe to live downwind of the power plant whose noxious fumes he or she has championed?

Joe Garonzik, Baltimore

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