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David Suzuki’s Blue Dot program needs action not just words

Dear editor,

David Suzuki started the Blue Dot program hoping for the right to clean air be include in the Constitution. Local councils and Blue Dot supporters across the country, including Jasper are not waiting for a change in the Constitution but are supporting the concept.

Unfortunately, words are not translating into active support for clean air and Jasper is no exception. No research is needed as we can simply borrow ideas from more environmentally conscious parts of the world. For example, many U.S. states have mandatory emission testing for automobiles to reduce emissions while in Britain, commercial diesel trucks have filters on the exhausts. In this regard, filters on the exhausts of diesel engines on the trains that idle in Jasper would be relevant. It needs the province to act but this is unlikely while there is no support for effective measures from the public.

The most troubling source of pollution in Jasper, as well as Banff and Field is residential wood burning. It has become a global problem and one that has been a concern since historical times. Googling  <wood smoke pollution> will outline a host of health problems related to wood smoke.  However, it is particularly troubling that residents in the national parks have shown so little regard for the environment by burning wood and have shown no regard for the impact of wood smoke on neighbours’ health. Residential wood burning is the most dangerous source of urban pollution and a problem that can be addressed locally. As examples, a ban on wood burning appliances in new homes, as in Golden B.C., is one approach or a ban on wood burning when the air is calm, as in so many U.S. cities, or a ban on selling a home unless wood burning appliances are removed.

Everyone in the province should be concerned about the cost of treating smoke-related diseases.  If we borrow data from the Australians then each wood stove costs taxpayers $15,000 each year and the new outdoor wood boilers ten times that amount. Emissions from wood burning fireplaces are just as deadly but their use varies so it is difficult to estimate the cost to the health care system.
Hopefully, supporters of the Blue Dot program will support the right to clean air with positive action and not just words.

Alan Smith,
A director of the Canadian Clean Air Alliance

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