Mr. President, what would Sasha and Malia say?

Los Angeles smog_Wikimedia Commons_Aliazimi.jpg

Talk about a rude awakening. This morning as I’m getting my kids (5 & 9) ready for school, I made the bad mistake of checking my Blackberry only to find that President Obama decided to pass on protecting our air. Needless to say, I gasped. Apparently, my gasp was such that both my kids came in and asked what was wrong. How do you explain to two kids that the president, the person who the country chose to lead us and protect us, decided to protect polluters instead of them.

So, I did my best and explained the truth: President Obama had the opportunity to limit the amount of pollution in our air and decided not to. It’s as simple as that.

My 5 year old son shook his head in a manner that reminded me of a confused puppy and wrinkled his brow and asked, “why?” Honestly, I was stumped. Why, Mr. Obama would you leave so many millions of us at risk? My 9 year old went on to leave me completely speechless when she asked me, “but doesn’t he have two daughters?”

I could have gone on to explain that what President Obama chose to do was take a pass on protecting their health from ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog which is formed when a dangerous mix of pollutants including volatile o

rganic compounds such as cancer-causing benzene and nitrogen oxides, combine in the presence of sunlight. I could have told them that, even at low levels, smog can aggravate asthma, cause respiratory illnesses, and cause lung damage for those who breathe it repeatedly. And I probably could have closed with the fact that as children, they, along with their grandparents, their friends who have asthma or other respiratory ailments, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smog. Oh, and that passing a stronger standard would save (yes, SAVE!) as much as $37 billion per year in health benefits at a cost of roughly $20 billion by:

But I didn’t have to. They had their answer and could tell this was a bad decision.

That's more than I can say for our government these days. It seems that none of these very obvious questions matter to them anymore. Knee-jerk reactions to overblown claims by political rivals are what rule the day and motivate action in Congress and in the Administration. Reason and facts are looked down upon. Thoughtfulness is viewed as pretentious. And protecting our country, our children, MY children, equals political poison.

Well, like any good mama Grizzly (to quote Ms. Palin), I’m mad. You see, no matter how much we reject, vote away, or ignore reality, the facts and science, it doesn’t make these go away. The truth here, whether we like it or not, is that the administration missed a chance to limit the pollution that we all breathe leaving more pollution for all of us: conservatives, liberals, independents, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, rich, poor, old, young, you name it (though as with most of these decisions minorities,the poor, the young and the elderly will fare much worse).

And no matter how you slice it, the real poison in this decision, is the deadly cocktail of toxic pollution that will be allowed to continue to be pumped into our air and into our lungs by polluters.