Polluter Poison Pills In Payroll Tax Bill: Keystone XL And Boiler MACT

Republicans in the House and Senate are pushing hard for two polluter poison-pill provisions in the payroll tax cut extension bill. Guaranteeing a year-end flood of contributions from the fossil fuel industry, the GOP has attached language to override the Obama administration’s actions on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and air-pollution rules for industrial boilers, known as the Boiler MACT rules. In a striking but incomplete victory for the climate movement, the Obama administration has extended the review of the Keystone XL pipeline until 2013. Fighting intense polluter lobbyist pressure, EPA has announced watered-down Boiler MACT rules that exempt 99 percent of industrial boilers from having stricter limits on mercury, dioxin, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, and carbon monoxide.

If passed, these love-letters to the oil and coal industries would be devastating to public health and the environment, risking infant brain damage and poisoned aquifers.

On Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted the Keystone XL and Boiler MACT poison pills threaten the passage of the payroll bill. He told Wallace that the payroll tax cut extension “obviously” will pass, but claimed Republicans have added these pollution poison pills on a “bipartisan basis“:

But we also need to have something in there that prevents the loss of jobs and something that will create the jobs. And that’s why we inserted Boiler MACT, supported on a bipartisan basis and the Keystone pipeline supported on a bipartisan basis. One would save jobs, one would create jobs right now.

McConnell is technically not lying about the bipartisan support, as there are a handful of Democrats who have cast their lot in with polluter interests instead of people’s health like the Republicans on both issues. However, neither the Keystone nor Boiler MACT poison pills would save or create jobs — studies have found that the economic and societal impact of their increased pollution would far outweigh any short-term benefits of allowing polluters to keep dumping waste into the atmosphere and water without consequence.

President Obama has said unequivocally that he will “reject” any attempt to include the Keystone language in the payroll bill, but has not issued a similar veto threat on Boiler MACT.

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