The Portland City Council on Monday night backed a resolution calling on Congress to strengthen regulations against air pollution.

Clean-air advocates had gathered earlier at City Hall to urge councilors to support the measure.

“It is unacceptable to have our kids breathing dirty air and getting sick because of it,” said Jeanette MacNeille of Topsham, who has asthma. “Our kids should not have to think, before they make their plans and follow their dreams, ‘Am I going to be able to breathe?'”

Acadia Calderwood, 14, of Union is one of those people. She said she can tell when the air quality is poor without looking at the news. Calderwood, a runner, is annoyed, and afraid of having asthma attacks while exercising.

“It’s a scary situation,” said Calderwood, who was presented with a copy of the resolution.

Later, councilors passed the Healthy Air Resolution unanimously at their evening meeting. Its purpose is to express support for the federal Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution, strengthen ozone standards and make efforts at the local, state and federal levels to address the root causes of climate change and pollution.

Portland is the seventh Maine community to pass the resolution, which is timed to coincide with the return of Congress from its February recess. Bangor, Waterville, Augusta, Hallowell, Lewiston and South Portland have passed similar resolutions.

The American Lung Association of Maine said in a news release that the upcoming session of Congress could present “direct and indirect threats to the Clean Air Act and the framework it provides for establishing science-based standards, air-quality monitoring, and enforcement.”

City Councilor Jon Hinck said that protecting and strengthening clean-air rules is important for health, the local economy and protecting “the Maine brand.”

Maine, Hinck noted, receives air pollution from neighboring states. He said Cumberland County got a “C” grade from the American Lung Association for air quality, and York and Hancock counties got “D” grades.

“This is an incredibly important issue for the state of Maine,” Hinck said.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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