America’s dependence on oil threatens our environment, our economy, and our national security. Whether it is the scars left by the oil spills in the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo rivers and the Gulf of Mexico, the $1 billion that American families and businesses send overseas every day for oil, or the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution emitted annually which fuels more and more extreme weather, these problems demand that we break our dependence on oil.
Power plants continue to release large amounts of toxic pollutants, including mercury, into our air. In 2010, two-thirds of all airborne mercury pollution in the United States came from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.
Humanity is running out of time to stop the most dangerous impacts of global warming. Signs of global warming are appearing around the world – including in the United States – and the latest science suggests that future impacts are likely to occur sooner and be more severe than previously thought.
All Americans should be able to breathe clean air. But pollution from power plants and vehicles puts the health of our nation’s children and families at risk. Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is one of the most harmful and one of the most pervasive air pollutants. According to the American Lung Association, nearly half of all Americans – 48 percent – still live in areas with unhealthy levels of smog pollution. Studies show that on days with high concentrations of smog pollution in the air, children and adults suffer more asthma attacks, increased respiratory difficulty, and reduced lung function. Exposure to smog pollution can exacerbate respiratory illness and even cause premature death. Sensitive populations including children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illness are particularly at risk of the adverse health effects of air pollution.
America’s dependence on oil inflicts a heavy toll on our environment – polluting our ocean waters, destroying natural landscapes and fouling our air. With oil companies taking greater and greater risks to satisfy the world’s demand for oil, the environmental toll of America’s oil dependence continues to rise.
Environment Connecticut Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.