Associated Press
Jill Ruchala, right, chants as she joins other protesters outside EPA headquarters in Washington, Thursday, March 18, 2010. The group was protesting in hopes of getting the EPA to stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.

In 1969, my parents sent me to summer camp for four weeks to Kelleys Island, Ohio, on Lake Erie. To get to my swimming lesson every day, I had to wade through thick, brown, foamy scum and dozens of dead fish washing up on the shore. Lake Erie was a toxic polluted dump site filled with sewage, heavy metal particles, pesticides and fertilizers. In fact in 1970, the Cuyahoga River, adjacent to Lake Erie, actually caught fire due to the massive amounts of industrial waste in it. This was our normal. And the air was just as bad.

President Richard Nixon initiated the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 to help clean up this mess. Clearly, government regulations are necessary to protect the public health. Businesses and industry are driven by their bottom lines, and without the EPA, as presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann propose, our children could be learning to swim again among dead fish in our waterways. Only a balanced approach to this country's problems will result in a better world for our children. The tea party offers no balanced approach to anything. If they prevail, I'm afraid we'll all be swimming with dead fish again.

Beth Chardack

Salt Lake City