In an ironic show of concern for asthma sufferers everywhere, South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint has been leading a charge against a federal ban on Primatene Mist inhalers, saying the ban will harm “quality of life for Americans.”
But as one of the most outspoken climate science deniers in Congress, DeMint has consistently supported policies that would lead to increases in rates of asthma, not decreases. In August, a team of researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that increasing levels of ozone from human-induced climate change would lead to 7% more emergency room visits due to asthma attacks among children under the age of 17.
Over the years, DeMint has consistently voted to stop regulation of greenhouse gases, voted against raising fuel standards for automobiles, and voted against expanding mercury standards. The League of Conservation Voters gave DeMint a lifetime score of 7 on his environmental record. No, that’s not 7 out of 10. That’s 7 out of 100.
The FDA is planning to ban the Primatene Mist inhaler because it emits chlorofluorocarbons, an ozone-depleting substance that the U.S. agreed to phase out under the Montreal Protocol. But the proposed rider to the minibus appropriations bill would bar funding to “implement regulations regarding the removal of essential-use designation for epinephrine used in oral pressurized metered-dose inhalers.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sponsored the amendment, calling FDA’s ban of the inexpensive inhaler a “stupid regulation,” and “just one more example of just out of control regulation that’s harming the quality of life for Americans.”
The EPA plans to work with the FDA to find a solution for the plan to ban the only over-the-counter asthma medication on the market by the end of this year.
DeMint, a darling of the Tea Party and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, mistakenly separates environmental health and human health when talking about the issue. After today’s vote, he tweeted: “54 senators just voted to ban OTC inhalers, putting environmental concerns ahead of the health concerns of millions of Americans.”
Surely, DeMint fought the ban out of a genuine desire to help people. But his strategy for ensuring “quality of life” is to hand out more inhalers after allowing the polluters to pollute more, contributing to more cases of asthma. That just doesn’t make sense.