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Letters: Rising carbon emissions does not just hurt the poor

Not long ago in “Another Voice,” a writer referenced a study by the conservative Pacific Research Institute and claimed Albany’s environmental laws create “energy poverty” for citizens. The study decries New York State’s goal of 50 percent renewable energies and calls carbon tax a “scheme.”

This claim is wrong and foolish when held to the standard of worldwide experts who have the education, experience, and integrity to know the truth. The poorest among us, the study contends, will pay the price for the rest of the nation. Funny … it seems the poor already do. They frequently have high health care costs which typically don’t cover cardiopulmonary and respiratory ailments caused or worsened by air – and waterborne pollutants and industrial pathogens (just think of Love Canal).

In addition, a general lack of opportunities means that poor people cannot worry about dangerous microbial pollutants when they are more immediately concerned about their children’s urgent needs like food and medicine. The poor have zero political clout, making them pawns in a system in which they can do little against multinational entities that control our air and water–while these very entities spend millions to distort and discredit globally accepted environmental science.

The Pacific Institute’s study demonizes “subsidies” to wind and solar energy. The truth? Tax advantages, land grabs, free infrastructure, pipeline funding, oil spills, groundwater pollution and premature deaths … these all have subsidized Big Oil and gas since the stuff first came out of the ground.

This far-right-sponsored study addresses only the poor. The reality is that pollution and increasing carbon emissions hurt every one of us. It’s no coincidence that clusters of illnesses and cancers happen to be here in Western New York … the writer failed to mention that New York is the recipient of the polluting winds and water from the industrial Midwest.

What are your priorities? For myself and my family, if we have to spend a few bucks more for gas and electricity in order to have clean air and water, I’ll take it.

Joseph Weiss, Ph.D.


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