Letter to the President: “The nations biggest polluters and some members of Congress have launched an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act”

More than two dozen of the nation’s leading environmental, scientific, and progressive organizations — including CAP — sent a letter to Obama yesterday about the importance of defending the Clean Air Act.  Here it is:

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to you about the Clean Air Act, a remarkably successful public health law that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the last 40 years while our economy has tripled in size.  Our organizations cannot overstate the priority we put on preventing efforts to block, weaken or delay implementation of this vital law, which at every stage in its history has garnered overwhelming bipartisan support.  We urge you to use your upcoming State of the Union address to underscore the critical need for the Clean Air Act’s sensible safeguards and to oppose any attempt to block, weaken, or delay its continued implementation.

As you know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to roll out long-overdue safeguards to reduce carbon, mercury, and other life-threatening pollution from big sources that have been allowed to dump unlimited amounts of pollution into our air for far too long. These clean air safeguards will save tens of thousands more lives, prevent millions of illnesses, and reduce health care costs, while spurring innovation and job growth.  Their health benefits will vastly outweigh their costs.

Unfortunately, the nation’s biggest polluters and some members of Congress have launched an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act.  Your recent Wall Street Journal op-ed emphasized your administration’s achievements under the Clean Air Act.  In order to build on those achievements, the EPA must retain its authority to hold polluters accountable and continue moving forward to implement all of these much-needed safeguards.

You have demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting public health and bringing about a clean energy economy throughout your presidency.  Your upcoming State of the Union address offers a perfect opportunity to renew that commitment by making clear that you will continue to stand with the public — not polluters — and do everything in your power to ensure that the EPA retains the authority and the resources to take the life-saving actions necessary to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.


Liz Butler, Campaign Director, 1Sky

Rebecca Wodder, President, American Rivers

John D. Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress

John Kassel, President, Conservation Law Foundation

Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO, Clean Water Action

Rodger Schlickeisen, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife

Trip Van Noppen, President, Earthjustice

Margie Alt, Executive Director, Environment America

Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund

Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth

Phil Radford, Executive Director, Greenpeace

Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters

David Yarnold, President and CEO, National Audubon Society

Thomas C. Kiernan, President, National Parks Conservation Association

Larry Schweiger, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council

Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer, Oceana

Joshua Reichert, Managing Director, Pew Environment Group

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

William Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society

Kevin Knobloch, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Peter Bahouth, Executive Director, U.S. Climate Action Network

Carter Roberts, President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund

14 Responses to Letter to the President: “The nations biggest polluters and some members of Congress have launched an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act”

  1. John McCormick says:

    President Obama’s mention of and commitment to EPA’s rolling out its rules on CO2 emissions may be the most telling part of his State of the Union, as far as our childrens’ future is concerned.

    Do the undersigned have the clout to get him to say that and, if not, what do we do the?. Our big green will have been ignored and he will be in full reelection mode.

    I have the feeling he will dance around the global warming issue and talk instead about creating green jobs. There may be a connection there but Jim Hansen and Sato’s recent paper call for more than a hat tip to the environment.

    John McCormick

  2. Paulm says:

    Does anyone know if which Obama thinks is the best solution… cap n trade or a carbon tax?

    He has not made any reflections on his recently.

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo, and Question

    Great letter! Thanks!

    Now the question:

    The title of the post, and the letter, both mention “the nation’s biggest polluters”.

    Where does ExxonMobil stand on all this? In other words, have they spoken out directly on this, or is there a clear documented path that shows that they are among those fighting to block or delay implementation of these laws? Are they acting directly? Through the API? Through K Street (who?)?

    Thanks and Be Well,


  4. Michael Tucker says:

    Re: Obama and cap’n trade / carbon tax.
    It is hard to know because, like Republicans, the President and the Democrats do not like to have a clearly stated plan. It is too easy for an opponent to attack that way.

    He liked cap’n trade because some Republicans had at one time been all in favor of that scheme and that is what the House had passed. I have not heard a single Democrat utter ‘carbon tax’ as a policy choice in a long time. But this is about EPA and the already passed into law Clean Air Act.

    I had no idea that the President might run from this fight too.

  5. Frank Zaski says:

    Impressive list of signees. It would be good to have such a letter/list from corporate titans as well, and CC their PACS and the Republicans.
    Regarding “some members of Congress have launched an unprecedented attack ,” the web site for the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has been eliminated. Is this just one part of the Republican SCORCHED EARTH policy?

  6. Sasparilla says:

    Michael Tucker “I had no idea that the President might run from this fight too.”

    He said several months ago that he was open to “compromise” on this issue (regarding the EPA). Hopefully he actually stands up to protect the clean air act here, but I would wager no money on it (probably only if he sees it benefits him politically).

  7. Michael Tucker says:


    My take is HE HAS ALREADY COMPROMISED HIS POSITION by ignoring the courageous House climate bill.

    Obama is not a stupid man. He has a family and I assume he would like Earth to be a habitable place for his future grandchildren and I also assume he is privy to the same scientific reports we all see. His science advisor is John Holdren who said in 2008 that we must take immediate action – way back in 2008 we needed immediate action! Yet…Obama, Holdren, and even Chu seem content to accept delay. Climate legislation is important but we can negotiate away any meaningful action in favor of other political considerations – because those other political considerations are MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN MEANINGFUL CLIMATE LEGISLATION.

    Fine! You are the President and you MUST KNOW BETTER. I do not claim to be better informed than the POTUS.

    I do humbly ask that you please let us know when immediate action is REALLY NEEDED. I remember a story from my childhood – something about a shepherd repeatedly sounding a warning about impending danger.

  8. It’s sad. The letter never mentions global warming or climate change. If these environmental leaders are afraid to make the connnection, no wonder the media and the general public don’t get it.

    [JR: It’s a letter to Obama. It includes carbon.]

  9. Re: Obama position on cap/trade.

    Didn’t he promise at the G8 to reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2050? Isn’t that the same math behind Waxman/Markey cap and trade?

  10. Mossy says:

    One group that is always absent in these discussions about preserving the Clean Air Act is the medical community. Physicians are well respected members of society, and well educated in the sciences. Detrimental health effects of climate change have been well documented. Where are the AMA, the ANA, the American Lung Assoc., etc? How do we entice them to step out of their cloistered walls and join the fight?

  11. Edward says:

    Add my signature to the petition.

  12. Sasparilla says:

    Michael Tucker #7, I agree with you (no need to YELL in response to me since that’s what ALL CAPITALS means). I was only adding a fact that further validates the quoted statement of yours. As you said above, it seems he compromised his position shortly after getting into office when the administration had to be pushed hard to lobby the House members for the bill.

    Its ironic we’re calling the climate bill that the House passed (as pathetic as it was) courageous, but you are right, in today’s world it sure is. I’ve heard Holdren speak before and he for sure, “got it” as well as Chu. What can explain it? Obviously they sure don’t want to be on the path we’re on – guessing they are on the short end of the power stick when the decisions were made.

    Obviously the President doesn’t “get it”, which is what Hansen said in his book (or he does but put action off anyways, which is even worse).

    It will be interesting to see what he mentions in his address, I’m so tied up with this stuff I doubt I’ll be able to watch. I have no feel for whether we’ll end the year with the EPA CO2 regulation in place or stripped, what a world…

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I think you can see just how far we are from developing a psychology that will enable us to survive from these ‘progressive’ voices stating, I assume approvingly, that the US economy has ‘tripled in size’ over the last forty years while the EPA has been in business. The addiction to the growth mentality is present, even here. Et in Arcadia, Ego.That this growth is the root cause of all those catastrophes that the EPA has not ameliorated, like the tropospheric ozone horror, insidious, omnipresent and utterly ignored, still seems literally to be unthinkable. I think that you will have some hope of salvation when these groups state firmly that the economy must shrink and consumption decline. After all that tripling in size has done precious little for the vast bulk of US citizens, where median wages, stagnant for those same forty years, are now falling, and personal debt has risen to levels that would crush Atlas, regardless of whether he shrugged or not. All in order to consume mountains of useless stuff.

  14. JR. re response to “carbon” #8. My first draft included, “while they lead with carbon”, but I deleted it because it was not relevant to my point. With John Podesta’s involvement, I inferred you had a hand writing it. I also inferred that Obama’s folks invited/choreographed the letter. I have become a climate hawk since Thanksgiving–for reasons that are not important here. The point is, I’m still new to this. I think you guys whiffed on this one, but i’m still with you all the way.