Congress: Let The EPA Do Its Job To Protect Our Health

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund urges a “no” vote on the efforts in the House and Senate to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to clean up health-threatening carbon dioxide pollution under the Clean Air Act as decided by the Supreme Court. For the Senate, CAPAF urges a “no” vote on the Baucus Amendment # 236, Stabenow-Brown Amendment # 277, Rockefeller amendment # 215, and McConnell amendment # 183, which were offered to the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, S. 493. For the House, CAPAF urges a “no” vote on H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act.

Congress should oppose efforts to block protection of public health from threats posed by carbon dioxide pollution. Preventing the EPA from doing its job will risk the health of children, seniors, and those suffering from respiratory ailments.

— The public believes the EPA should do more, not less, to support the Clean Air Act. A February 2011 bipartisan poll found that “69 percent think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution.” Unions and more than 500 nongovernmental organizations oppose this antipublic health proposal.

— Delaying or eliminating the EPA’s authority to clean up carbon dioxide pollution will harm our health, which is why similar legislation restricting EPA authority was opposed by the major public health protection organizations, including the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and many others. The American Medical Association recently wrote:

Patients are presenting with illnesses that once happened only in warmer areas. Chronic conditions are becoming aggravated by more frequent and extended heat waves. Allergy and asthma seasons are getting longer. Spates of injuries are resulting from more intense ice storms and snowstorms.

— The Clean Air Act has protected thousands of lives and has generated real benefit to the economy. For every $1 of pollution reduction costs, we have seen an economic benefit of $20.

— Halting the EPA’s efforts will increase smog by failing to address a key contributor to global warming. 2010 was the hottest year on record, following the hottest decade on record, which is part of a 50-year trend. Uncontrolled large coal-fired power plants and oil refineries will add to the carbon dioxide pollution responsible for this warming. And warm temperatures are a key ingredient in smog formation. An interim assessment by the EPA found that there is “the potential for global climate change to make U.S. air quality management more difficult.”

— The EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide pollution will create jobs and boost innovation, which is why utility leaders from Exelon Corp., Constellation Energy Group, Calpine Corp, and PG&E, among others, oppose congressional efforts to delay Clean Air Act implementation. These business leaders wrote that:

[E]xperience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

Members should vote against the Energy Tax Prevention Act and the Baucus (#236), Stabenow (#277), Rockefeller (#215), and McConnell (#183) amendments, and instead allow the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to fulfill its responsibility to protect public health from carbon dioxide and other air pollutants.


The U.S. Senate has voted down each of the anti-climate amendments. Baucus and Stabenow-Brown went down by votes of 7-93. Rockefeller failed 12-88. McConnell failed 50-50.

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