Clean Air: Where You Live Matters
Nowadays, clean air seems elusive. This fact makes this mom furious.
It wasn’t that long ago that I played with neighborhood kids in a quaint little area called Highland Acres in Bismarck, North Dakota. On countless glorious evenings, we soaked in every moment of happiness, feeling the fresh breezes, and breathing in some of the freshest air on earth. I’ll never forget the freedom we enjoyed, running from house to house to the nearby schoolyard, despite the heat or the frigid cold. I had a beautiful childhood, one that every child on earth so deserves. And that is the kind of clean air living I imagined for my own children.
Unfortunately, corporate greed and government profits have changed this way of life. I no longer reside in one of the country’s most northern states, and instead live in one of the country’s most polluted ones, Utah.
Only a lucky few have access to clean air in my state and beyond. Now the clean North Dakota of my childhood has also been corrupted by the exploitation of its abundance of dirty energy resources.
Life in one of the “cleanest” places in America has succumbed. When the oil boom in North Dakota hit in 2008, prairie lands in the western part of the state gave way to oil rigs. Clear, blue skies are now murky, translucent, and filled with fiery torches. While it may seem that everyone in North Dakota has been positively (financially) affected by the discovery of North Dakota’s rich oil reserves, there lies an even deeper truth…
Something “gives” during the extraction of oil. North Dakota’s water quality has been threatened by oil spills and fracking practices. The swaying native grasses have been stripped into dirt roads for industrial trucking. As you might expect, the state’s air quality has plummeted.
I have now been a resident of Utah for over ten years, and have learned two important lessons about poor air quality.
- It wreaks havoc on health. EVERYONE is negatively affected by toxic air, as it causes an increase risk of asthma, heart disease, autism and cancer.
- Unless enough citizens take a stand and demand change, money always seems to win in the fight for clean air.
I love Utah. It is a beautiful state with so much to offer my young family. But, if you’ve ever experienced Salt Lake City during periods of inversion, you may never want to return. I don’t want my children to live in a blanket of yellowish, toxic air from industrial pollution, medical waste incineration and vehicle exhaust. It is literally sending everyone — young and old, gasping for breath.
I ask myself these questions daily:
- How can I force my children to live in such a place that makes them sick?
- How can my family remain in a state where the government is doing very little to protect our future generation, my children?
- If we can no longer live here because of health implications, where do we go?
- How many children will suffer from dirty air and die from lung problems before people wake up?
- When are our elected officials going to take a stand for those who cannot speak out?
If you’ve never had the opportunity to have access to clean air, you’ve truly missed out. I was a lucky girl, and I don’t want my children to miss breathing in the beauty of Utah. I won’t accept this. Which is why I’m uniting with Moms who are fighting for strong clean air actions.