Kids are currently enjoying their summer vacations, but Congress is also taking a summer break. Before they left Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that could make it riskier for kids with asthma to play outside.

The bill, H.R. 5538, would slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and block limits on dangerous air pollution, including the pollution that causes climate change. For Maine, this bill is incredibly important: H.R. 5538 would compromise many programs meant to clean up and protect our air, allowing outdated standards to remain in place and power plants to continue to pump pollution into the air, finding its way to Maine in the form of ozone.

Climate change endangers our health in a variety of ways. It makes it harder to clean up the ozone pollution that we often see in the summer. On days with unhealthy air, kids with asthma sometimes have to stay indoors. Here in Maine, we’ve already had air quality alerts issued, and the summer isn’t over yet.

Fortunately, we do not expect this bill to become law, but Congress will need to pass funding bills to avoid a shutdown later this year. When they do, they must fully fund EPA and reject any provisions that would weaken clean air and climate safeguards. By enforcing strong ozone standards, methane rules, and protecting the Clean Air Act, we can continue to clean up our air. Our kids deserve nothing less.

Paul Shapero

Bangor