In smog battle, industry gets help from unlikely source: black business group

(WASHINGTON POST)  Joby Warrick — For years, the air over central Pittsburgh has ranked among the country’s dirtiest, with haze and soot that regularly trigger spikes in asthma attacks, especially among the urban poor. So it might have seemed odd that a black business group would choose this spot to denounce proposed restrictions on smog.

But that’s exactly what the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce did this month. Chamber President Harry C. Alford appeared before some of Pittsburgh’s African American leaders to urge opposition to a White House plan for tougher limits on air pollution. Then he went on radio to deliver the same appeal.

“Why do we impose these ­massive, arbitrary rules?” Alford asked.

Despite the unlikely venue, the message was anything but unusual for Alford, a veteran of multiple campaigns to quash regulations intended to improve air quality or fight climate change. Since early summer, Alford has delivered the same pitch in multiple cities, blasting a plan to impose limits on ozone, a pollutant that contributes to urban smog and aggravates breathing disorders, particularly among the elderly and very young.

Alford’s message — that the proposed regulations would hurt the economy and stifle job growth — is nearly identical to the one being broadcast widely by the rules’ opponents from business and industry. The National Association of Manufacturers has poured millions of dollars into a television ad campaign criticizing the proposal, which the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to adopt in final form Wednesday.

But while the TV ads command the most attention, a more subtle effort is underway to reduce support for the regulations among blacks, Latinos and even the elderly — groups not usually regarded as natural allies for corporations fighting air-pollution laws.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which acknowledges receiving strong financial backing from Exxon Mobil and other ­fossil-fuel interests, has specifically tailored its message to African American audiences, drawing anger from environmental and public health groups that say urban blacks would be among the biggest beneficiaries of tighter regulations.


Source: In smog battle, industry gets help from unlikely source: black business group – The Washington Post