Exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal in Thompsons, Tex., on March 16, 2011. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

Regarding the Oct. 10 news article "EPA chief tells coal miners he will repeal Obama-era power plant rule":

It is sad to witness the flensing of the Environmental Protection Agency, once a proud, innovative and effective agency that protected the environment and worked to assure human health.

We used to suffer badly in southern Ontario from toxic air originating from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest. In 2005, Ontario had 19 smog advisories, one eight days long. An Ontario Medical Association study estimated that the pollution caused about 2,000 premature deaths annually as well as more than 100,000 cases of respiratory distress.

When the EPA regulations respecting coal-fire emissions came into effect, air quality improved so much that most years now there is not a single smog advisory. We can also be grateful that the EPA’s example provided a standard that we could cite to compel our own coal-fired plant to close down. Unlike deaths from environmental disasters such as forest fires and hurricanes, toxic-air deaths are forlorn statistical events, unrecognized and unmourned.

How long until the scourge of deadly air once again rolls across the border — after exacting an even more tragic toll in America first?

Greg Michalenko, Waterloo, Ontario