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Nathan Willcox,
Environment America
Rob Sargent,
Environment America

Congress to Vote on Attacks on Public Health

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tomorrow, both the U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on proposals that would severely threaten Americans’ health by blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to clean up dangerous carbon dioxide pollution.  Nathan Willcox, Environment America’s Federal Global Warming Program Director, issued the following statement in anticipation of the votes:

“Polluters and their allies in Congress are launching an all-out attack on Americans’ health and our environment tomorrow, and we’re counting on members of Congress to stand up for the health of our children, elderly citizens and vulnerable populations by voting against this attack. Global warming poses serious threats to Americans’ health, our economy and our future, but these polluters’ proposals would weaken the Clean Air Act’s ability to protect us from the very pollution that is fueling the problem.”

BACKGROUND:

Despite the Clean Air Act’s 40 year track record of cost-effectively cutting dangerous pollution, and the many serious health and environmental threats posed by global warming, several proposals are expected to be voted on tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate which would block or weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to clean up dangerous carbon dioxide pollution (the main pollutant fueling global warming). Many national public health groups—including the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America—have sent letters to Congress, urging members of Congress to reject all of these proposals. 

In the Senate, four proposals—dubbed The Filthy Four—are expected to be offered as amendments to an unrelated small business bill (S. 493):

  • Senator McConnell (R-KY) is offering an amendment mirroring Sen. Inhofe’s bill (S. 482) to block the EPA from cleaning up dangerous carbon dioxide pollution, overturn scientific findings regarding the threats posed by global warming, and block EPA and the states from cutting carbon dioxide pollution and saving oil through clean car standards.
  • Senator Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Brown (D-OH) are offering an amendment that would block the implementation of standards to cut carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial sources for at least two years, while exempting the agricultural sector from any limits on carbon dioxide pollution.
  • Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) is offering an amendment that would block the EPA’s ability to set standards—or even do research and gather stakeholder input to develop standards—to cut carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial sources for at least two years.
  • Senator Baucus (D-MT) is offering an amendment that would block the clean-up of global warming pollution from biomass facilities and also would permanently exempt even the very largest sources of global warming pollution from having to clean up their global warming pollution unless the source is also a very large source of other pollutants.

In the House of Representatives, Representative Fred Upton’s (D-MI) bill H.R. 910, dubbed the Dirty Air Act, is expected to receive a vote on the House floor.

Representative Upton’s Dirty Air Act mirrors Sen. McConnell’s amendment described above, and would do at least three dangerous things:

  • Block EPA from cutting carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial sources.  Coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the United States.
  • Overturn EPA’s “endangerment finding” regarding global warming pollution—the determination by EPA scientists that global warming pollution poses threats to public health and welfare—essentially saying that Congress knows climate science better than the climate scientists themselves.
  • Block EPA—and states—from issuing new standards for cleaner vehicles after 2017, and open up the 2012-2016 federal clean car standards to serious legal challenges.  These standards are regarded as one of the easiest ways to cut our reliance on oil and save consumers money at the gas pump.