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Mahoning County asthma victims can thank EPA for pollution rules

Published: Sun, March 16, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Mahoning County asthma victims can thank EPA for pollution rules

When your car is dirty, you wash it. Too bad it was never that simple for our air.

Roughly half of the United States’ population is exposed to levels of air pollution that fail to meet national air-quality standards. Mahoning County received a C for ozone pollution and a C for particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report last year.

Passenger vehicles are significant contributors to ozone and particle pollution, which can trigger asthma attacks, increase complications for those with lung diseases, contribute to heart attacks, cancer, and can even lead to early death.

Fortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just finalized new standards that will help reduce this pollution. The measures will clean up all gasoline-powered passenger cars, trucks and SUVs by significantly reducing sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds of current levels, the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road. These standards also will lower the tailpipe emissions of all new passenger vehicles.

These critical public-health protections will clean up harmful air pollution from motor vehicles and are urgently needed. For the more than 5,000 children in Mahoning County who have asthma, some of whom live by busy roads, the newly proposed standards are a breath of fresh air. On behalf of the American Lung Association, we thank the EPA for keeping our health in mind.

Shelly Kiser, Columbus

Kiser is director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.

City council should decrease number of wards from 7 to 5

Expectations have never been high for Youngstown’s City Council, but they hit a new low recently when the squabbling over redistricting led members to oust council members Mike Ray and Paul Drennen from leadership positions.

As Mayor John McNally came out and said a few weeks ago, the inequality in the ward populations as they are currently drawn are unconstitutional, and there is “no compelling reason” for council to delay redistricting by seeking further proposals.

I’ve read much of the Vindicator’s coverage on this issue, and interviewed the majority of city council to get their views on YSU’s proposed maps.

Aside from ambivalent answers such as “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion,” the only criticism that continually resurfaces is the fact that Councilwoman Annie Gillam’s residence would no longer be part of the First Ward that she represents.

Councilwoman Gillam seems to take this as a personal affront and has suggested that political actors wielded influence over YSU’s redistricting process. The fact is, whether she lives in the First Ward or the Second Ward has very little impact on the residents of Youngstown.

In an ideal world, two council membersw would be displaced. The current maps were drawn from the 1980 census, when the city had a population of 115,427. Each council member was representing approximately 16,490 residents. Since the population has dropped to 65,405, according to the most recent estimates, it would make sense to reduce the number of wards to five.

The unequal ward populations undermine the legitimacy of city council and infringe upon the rights guaranteed to citizens of Youngstown by the U.S. Constitution.

A council that doesn’t recognize this issue as one of paramount importance (or see the potential for a lawsuit against the city as a liability) is either dysfunctional or corrupt. Council’s actions recently seem to suggest this is the case.

Mayor McNally and the residents of Youngstown need to force the issue.

Justin Weir, Youngstown

Why this big fixation on Tressel? Focus on fixing potholes at YSU

In an article about former football coach Jim Tressel not taking a stance on the presidency for Youngstown State University, The Vindicator does not report anything new. The consensus about the vacancy for the presidency once Randy Dunn leaves is that Tressel could be the guy, but he has neither confirmed nor denied it. In fact, Tressel said before was happy with his job at the University of Akron.

Despite U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan giving his support to Tressel, I feel YSU is still skipping over some of the pertinent issues really surrounding the campus.

Potholes have been a huge problem, yet everyone seems so obsessed with getting Tressel here that everything else falls by the wayside. That is not the way you run a university.

What’s even more sad is that state Rep. Bob Hagan is chiming in. Hagan and Ryan are political voices for Ohio and for the Valley, yet they’re more concerned about giving the job to a particular figurehead? Come on. You’ve got to think they have better things to do with their own professions.

I don’t want to seem as if I am ripping on The Vindicator for this story, but it certainly seems somewhat pointless. Tressel is gaining support, support for which he’s not even asking.

My advice to YSU: Instead of focusing on what you want, focus on what’s more realistic and logical. That’s how things get done.

Benjamin Orr, Warren

Tip of the hat to the governor

As chief executive officer of the Mahoning Youngstown Community Action Partnership (MYCAP) that works with low-income people to help them attain self-sufficiency, I want to share my support for Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program in Ohio.

Despite having jobs, many low-income people in Mahoning County and across the state struggle to pay their bills. With the cost of housing, transportation, food and medical care continually rising, people in lower paying jobs need to be able to hold onto the wages they earn. The EITC program does this. Expanding this program will not only help low-income citizens, but will also stimulate the economy.

I would like to commend the governor for proposing to expand this proven-successful program and encourage our legislators, Rep. Ronald Gerberry, Rep. Robert Hagan and Sen. Joe Schiavoni to pass this expansion.

Also, I hope your readers agree and will contact our legislators asking them to support expansion of the EITC program.

R. Renee Walton, Youngstown

School lunches are yucky

I’m writing this by request. A group of students from one of the schools requested me to write about their school lunches. They don’t like them. Since the change to what is so- called healthy, why are they being offered food they don’t like, or want, or don’t eat?

I worked in a school cafeteria for awhile. We served good nourishing, balanced lunches. There was a salad bar everyday along with a special item on it. (Such as baked potato bar or pasta day). Why not give the students what they like? It’s not the food that’s making them obese, it’s the lack of exercise.

When driving, how many children do you see outside playing? When I grew up we were always outside being active at something. Now the children have too many gadgets to keep them indoors.

So schools let’s forget about what Michele Obama thinks our children should have and feed them what they like. Then between the school and parents see that they get more exercise.

Alice Dyce, Austintown


1evio(43 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Michele Obama has spent all your money on getting kids to exercise and active, so there's no money to the junk that kids crave.

Besides, we already blow far to much money on lunches for these free loading kids. Let them all get jobs then they can buy their own crap.

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2Jerry(601 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

@ Shelly Kiser

“…….new standards that will help reduce this pollution. The measures will clean up all gasoline-powered passenger cars, trucks and SUVs by significantly reducing sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds of current levels………………….. These standards also will lower the tailpipe emissions of all new passenger vehicles.”

I’d like to point out that standards and regulations will NOT “reduce pollution”. Standards and regulations will NOT “clean up” gasoline powered vehicles. They will NOT “reduce the sulfur in gasoline”, nor will they “lower the tailpipe emissions”. Standards and regulations will not DO anything. Standards and regulations allow lawyers and bureaucrats to force other people (people who actual have useful skills and do things that are useful) to figure out how to comply with the standards and regulations.

I acknowledge that some standards and regulations are necessary, that is always debatable. I am pointing out that we should not be crediting the lawyers and bureaucrats at the EPA with actually DOING anything. They do not.

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3lajoci(554 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Just as I do not like Obamacare (because it does not go FAR ENOUGH, and SHOULD have actually been a simple expansion of MEDICARE to cover everyone), so, too, I object to the weakness and shilly-shallying of the EPA, which does not nearly enough to protect the environment, and, by extension, our lives, and the lives of every living thing on the planet.

By fightin g to protect our air, soil, and water, we protect ourselves from the toxic effects of businesses restrained from harmful practices by nothing except the profit motive.

We have seen the results of this laissez-faire philosophy before, and the picture was not a pretty one, which is why we, collectively, together initiated rules and regulations that govern the behavior of these irresponsible exploiters.

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4tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

And in any event, this is entirely the wrong approach, by which I refer to this ghastly practice of bureaucrats issuing rules that the peasants are expected to obey.
No matter how well-intended, and THAT has yet to be established.
WHO, specifically, issued these diktats? Who? Answering "EPA" tells us nothing. Names, please.
The proper way to do this is not by use of regulation. The *proper* means, the Constitutional approach, is the legislative one. Write a Bill, argue it out in the Congress (or state Legislature), get the President (or Governor) to give assent. Law. Recorded votes, records of who did what on the matter. And all accountable to We The People. If we hate it, vote the rascals out. The proper, Constitutional approach.
Not this evil "alphabet agency" garbage fobbed off on us by junior grade fascisti going back to the ghastly regimes of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.
Abolish the PA. It was established by Presidential directive (Nixon) and could be demolished the same way.
:Law is NOT the same as regulation and we do a disservice in allowing the blurring.

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5Sensible(118 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

To tnmartin,
Nixon proposed and established the USEPA, after which your representatives ratified his order. The Congress has continued to fund the EPA. So Congress (your elected ones) have their fingerprints all over the USEPA.

So vote the rascals out. Then elect a president that is running on a dirty water, dirty air platform.

You can complain all day about how EPA's creation doesn't meet your standards, but I promise you that the majority of Americans would prefer to keep sewage out of their drinking water.

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6tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Oh. Then by that standard, any dirty kids are that way because the FEDERAL government isn't setting up bath inspectors to see to it. Not only does activity "count" unless it's being driven by government, but it *really* doesn't count unless it is driven by the *Federal* government. I see.
Here's news for you.
By design of our system, very little is the responsibility or under the authority of the federal government. Read the appropriate documents, if you can, the words aren't the difficult and the documents are not that long. Read them. Find therein the SPECIFIC language empowering the FEDERAL government to have any say whatever in water quality or use of coal or any of a number of other matters. Any more than it has any legitimacy in setting your kids' bedtimes. It's a nunya.
If Ohio or Pennsylvania wish to set such rules, have at it. But do it openly and honestly and in such a way that everyone affected can see who is proposing what and what the issues are. Not by some un-elected, un-accountable, un-named bureaucrat in a far-distant department. Do it openly and honestly. That is not too much to ask and it is the way things are supposed to be done.
Otherwise, it's as if a drunk stuck a stop sign in the middle of I-680 and some cop decided to write citations against everyone who quite reasonably ignored the stupid thing.
Some of these regs make sense. A whole lot don't and the amount of them is growing. Evidently, some of these people, in the legislatures, Congress, town councils and such, as well as the agencies, have forgotten that they work for us and are supposed to answer to us, and not the other way around.
By the way, yes, Nixon stuck us with EPA. Never liked him, thought he was too liberal.

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7Sensible(118 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

You do realize that there is an Ohio EPA and a department of Air Polution Control?

As I said, run your president or governor, whatever on a dirty water and dirty air platform.

Quit your bit**ing and elect your "unclean" candidate!
Good luck with that.

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8tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

don't have a problems, as such, with some sort of effort at the STATE level. But, as stated above, this needs to involve LAW, enacted via a constitutional process of elected, accountable, persons whose votes and actions are a matter of public record. Not by unelected, unaccounatable, unnamed bureaucrats issuing *regulations* or ex post facto redefinitions to suit their private prejudices. Policy to be done by the elected persons, and only by them.
And therein is a great difference. Most people are able to discern that difference. I am sorry that the cloud of intense emotionalism seems to render that difficult.
Expecting that things, no matter how worthy they might be, to be done by proper channels is not the same as voting in favor of toxicity. Again, most people are able to grasp that distinction. Some evidently can not. Too bad.
I like clean water too. You do realize that every drop of your water was once fish urine, right?

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9Sensible(118 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago


Fish urine - is that a biblical reference or scientific theory?

OK, make the voters responsible and accountable. Isn't that the your objective?

Put it to the voters, IMO the result will be the same - voters will authorize regulations to control air and water pollution.

I understand the principle that you are advocating, and that's fine. But as a practical matter people will still vote for clean water over fish urine or industrial waste.

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10tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

umm, re fish urine. Follow in your mind's eye a few molecules of water over the course of a few thousand years. Chances are pretty good that the molecules have been urine at least once, and possibly been in other unpleasant conditions as well. The river water people drank for a couple thousand years almost certainly had some amounts of , umm, "organic" material per gallon from upstream activities and runoff, and drank it without recourse to modern treatment systems. And, in the main, lived. Don't say I'd prefer it, but in reality the system can handle less-than-antiseptic situations and it may actually be good for your overall vitality. Look up the term "hormesis".
If we are going to have a free society, then the laws that -- supposedly -- bind us all equally, need to be adopted by open advocacy and process, and those who accept positions of public trust must act honestly, honorably, and openly. We now know without doubt that the behavior of far too many of these regulators at all levels have acted in arbitrary, capricious, and I submit, corrupt methods in order to advance personal and political ends. There is no place for this in a free society.
It's not just EPA. I could, for example, find such instances even at a local level, and probably you could as well.

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11Sensible(118 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Ok you want to follow the science route.
A molecule of water is a molecule of water, not a molecule of salt, not a molecule of benzene, not a molecule of nitrous oxide, not a molecule of anything else than H20.
There is no such thing as a molecule of fish urine.

Granted, there has been water contaminated with fish urine, but no such thing as fish urine molecule. And granted that humans have drunk contaminated water. But when offered the choice of water free from contamination versus water that is contaminated with benzene, salt, fracking fluids, radium, oil, etc. my bet is that they will choose non-contaminated water.

So if you fell that drinking fish urine will be good for your overall vitality, go for it.

I'll still stick with clean air and water as long as I can afford to do so.

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12tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

as well as "The chief watchdog overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency is accusing agency officials of obstructing investigations by refusing to cooperate, using bully tactics to silence lower-level workers and, in at least one instance, threatening an agent. ". That in reference to an Inspector General report.
Corruptocrats. And note, the use of the non-specific term "agency officials". No names given. No accountability. None fired. None charged with crimes. Yet, somehow, using hitherto-invisible grants of power in the Constitution, apparently exercising at least the low and middle justice upon the citizens - or should that be "subjects" - of the State.
And there are those who believe such to be A Good Thing. "may your chains rest lightly upon you, and may history forget that you were ever our countrymen", as the quote from a better time worded it.
yes, there is no such thing as molecular fish urine. But any water you are likely to encounter has been part of a volume of urine, or worse, at some point in human history. So let's skip the silliness, OK?

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13joannetombo(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben- I agree with you 100%! So many issues are going out the window because people are more concerned with having a successful football coach become our next university president.

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14lajoci(554 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

For all you EPA-haters out there, let me pass along to you a little tid-bit I learned from an Albuquerque couple last week, namely that New Mexico regulates LIGHT POLLUTION.

That's right! The Night Sky Protection Act of 1999 "which regulates outdoor lighting fixtures, with an aim of keeping the sky darker and curtailing nighttime energy waste."

" Light pollution (light emitted at night that extends beyond the horizontal plane, shining up instead of down) affects not only our ability to stargaze, but also the environment and safety: Certain lights throw off glares that can actually make it harder to see at night, and many lights left on at night waste energy and can confuse wildlife."

You see, they believe the night sky itself to be a natural resource worthy of protection.

We can thank our lucky stars that not everyone believes in giving free reign to unbridled commerce at the expense of what we all share as our natural heritage.

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15tnmartin(413 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

fine. Let the people of the good state of New Mexico be as silly as they wish. It's not my problem. The silliness -- if it is that -- is limited to their borders.
Should the dim bulbs in Columbus wish to take up a similar matter, we might have some discussion again, but I'd like to think there are more pressing matters.
Can you imagine the council in, say, Niles or Youngstown wasting time on "light pollution"? Really? They'd be laughed out of office, and people might think closing Woodside was premature.
but it is again something at the state level, where it should be if not below. Not everything in life is a federal matter. We used to understand that.

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16Sensible(118 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

RE your #21 and fish urine.

Agreed that prior contamination of water is a silly argument and we can agree to discontinue that "silliness". Recall that you brought this up to bolster your argument against the EPA.

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17wrludt(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Justin, that is an excellent response to the indecisiveness surrounding the seven wards of Youngstown. City council meetings are a burden for Youngstown's representatives to sit through. Apparently giving an issue a little attention is too much to ask for.

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18arood111(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Really good post Ben! I agree that it does seem that YSU is over its head with this whole jim Tressel as president. I just think that there is always hope and it at least has people paying attention to the presidential search Unlike last time when Dunn was hired.

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19bnlandsberger19(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben, you make some really good points. I agree, people are so insistant and hopeful for Tressel to fill the presidency when he already has a job that he likes, and to my knowledge, he doesn't have any intentions of applying for the position. I think this energy should be focus on finding a new candidate to take the place of Randy Dunn when he leaves.

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20dhelmick(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

I still can't believe that the city has gotten away with not redistricting for so long. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.

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21jjbuckley(2 comments)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Justin i agree with you that city council needs to make moves when it comes to redistricting the wards. The wards have been the same for way too long and it's time to adjust it in accordance with the current population so that every citizen has an equal say .

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