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Environmental Groups Call for 100 Hours of Action

Environmental groups warn that some of the Trump administration's earliest actions could send Missouri's asthma rates even higher. (sierraclub.org)
Environmental groups warn that some of the Trump administration's earliest actions could send Missouri's asthma rates even higher. (sierraclub.org)
January 27, 2017

ST. LOUIS - Environmental groups are warning that Missouri's asthma problems may only get worse if the Trump administration continues in the same direction as it did in its first 100 hours.

Across the country, a coalition of groups has launched "100 Hours of Action" to oppose what they see as aggressive attacks on clean air and water, the economy, families, health and the future. Retired physician Dr. John Kissel, who works with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said Missouri's asthma rate already is too high and not enough is being done about it.

"Currently, Ameren, our electric utility, burns coal to generate electricity for about 70-something percent of their production, which is twice the national average," he said. "They have plans to switch some of that production from coal to gas, but really, not to increase clean energy for the next 20 years."

According to the Missouri Department of Health, there were nearly 30,000 asthma-related emergency-department visits, and more than 6,500 hospitalizations in a recent year. Children younger than 15 accounted for 42 percent of them. President Trump has said he wants to protect clean air and water, but has plans to reverse some regulations on power-plant emissions, mining and oil drilling.

Susan Jones, president of the St. Louis Board of Education, said children's health has a big impact on their education, and research shows that one of the primary causes of absenteeism is poor health.

"Not often do we really focus on what's really happening," she said, "with a lot of reasons why our kids are absent is because of the different health disparities our children are facing."

The Rev. Roderick Burton of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church said Missourians shouldn't sit back quietly and allow the environment to be harmed.

"Clean air and clean water should be a priority, regardless," he said. "Even though you may have someone at the top who doesn't see it that way, the will of the people will be carried out if the people will make enough noise."

Burton said these issues are beyond partisan politics. They're about collective survival, he said, since everybody drinks water and breathes air.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO