As a student at Mount Desert Island High School in 1970, I was most comfortable as an “affirmative” debater, in favor of federal government regulation of air and water quality. The negative side of the argument was in favor of state regulation.

Little did I know that both would become increasingly important to protect our environment and our livelihood. I was on the school debate team, and it was the topic for debate teams that year.

Then as now, I remain certain that our air and water quality is our most precious commodity.

As a new mother in 1991, I was president of the American Lung Association of Maine. Then as now, I was sure that the asthma rates in Maine indicated that our air quality still needed a great deal of protection and improvement.

As an older breather and voter today, I remain certain that fossil fuel dependency and fossil fuel investor profits are shortsighted, corporate-driven answers to our lagging economy here in Maine. I oppose the Department of Environmental Protection’s petition to take most of Maine out of the Ozone Transport Region (the congressionally created compact that requires members to adopt added pollution control measures).

Weakening Maine’s participation in this agreement is the wrong direction for Maine, including the fact that it creates an opening for other states to leave as well, resulting in more ozone pollution for Maine. Given our geographic position, we need strong clean air protections in those upwind states, and in order to achieve that, we need to stay fully committed to this agreement.

Maine has some of the highest rates of asthma in the entire country, and we sit at the tailpipe of the nation. We need to continue to move forward on clean air protections instead of backward.

Sarah MacColl is a resident of Cape Elizabeth.

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