On July 24, The Post and Courier published a story from The Washington Post about new regulations regarding the “heavy fuel” ships burn and the sulfur content of this fuel. Beginning Aug. 1, the sulfur content of fuel had to drop from 2.7 percent to 1 percent for ships within 200 miles of U.S. and Canadian shorelines. By 2015, the standard will drop to 0.1 percent.

The article gave credit to the George W. Bush administration in 2007, the U.S. and Candian governments, the International Maritime Organization and the Obama administration. Add the Environmental Protection Agency and you have a lot of people who think big ship pollution is a very serious subject.

Now if I am the guy in charge of our city or the guy who heads up our port, or the guy who runs the big ship, I would want the local population to think I’m at the forefront of the battle to get sulfur dioxide under control. If this subject is in the public eye, I want to look like a leader who is interested in the safety of the city’s inhabitants.

If there is concern about the health of our populace, I want to be part of the conversation regarding solutions — regulations that will improve the situation. Why would I want to be anything else?

It is my opinion that our leadership is in an obstructionist mode. Not so long ago, smoking cigarettes with a percentage content of nicotine was acceptable in public places. Old Humphrey Bogart movies show the actor almost constantly lighting up. For the last 30 to 40 years, we have come to realize the horrendous effects of cigarette smoke and nicotine on our health, and thus we now ban smoking in public places.

I understand that it takes time to accomplish these changes. What I do not understand is our Charleston leaders’ obstructionist stance in the current debate on sulfur dioxide pollution from big ships in our harbor. We want our leaders to be at the forefront of this conversation. We want our leaders to be interested in our health. We want to trust them.

It is time to sit at the table together and do the right things.

Church Street

(Also published in P&C.)