CREDIT: AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
For one Missouri lawmaker, fighting individual Environmental Protection Agency regulations — like the recent rule on carbon emissions from power plants — isn’t enough.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would halt all EPA rules that are currently in the works and prompt a review of all previous EPA regulations. H.R. 5034, titled the Stop the EPA Act, would also require Congress to approve all previous and new regulations that cost $50 million or more. Under the bill, any that aren’t approved by Congress won’t become law.
“My legislation will give the American people a voice in the regulator’s room when the President and the EPA try and go around Congress,” Graves said in a statement. “EPA aggression has reached an all-time high, and now it must be stopped.”
Graves’ legislation was prompted by the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal, which aims to clarify what streams and rivers are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. It’s also aimed at the EPA’s new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, a proposal that multiple other lawmakers have attempted to undermine or overturn in recent months. House Republicans introduced an EPA funding bill this week that would block the agency’s new power plant rule, and nine states have signed on to coal company Murray Energy’s lawsuit against the agency, claiming that the new rule constitutes EPA overreach.
The EPA has long been the target of attacks from industry and lawmakers, however.
Take asbestos. On Thursday morning, the House side of the U.S. Capitol was shut down due to a possible spill of asbestos that occurred while workers were cleaning out the hazardous material from the building.
Something fell during “asbestos abatement work” at the Capitol overnight, prompting the closure of the House side of the building. Hazardous material response teams and Environmental Protection Agency investigators are conducting testing at the scene to determine whether or not the material that fell exposed the area to asbestos.
Breathing in asbestos fibers, which can be found in old insulation, flooring, roofing, paint, and fabrics, can cause lung disease and lung cancer. The EPA has taken multiple regulatory actions against asbestos use over the last few decades, including banning it from pipe insulation and sprays. The agency banned most products containing asbestos in 1989, but two years later, that rule was overturned after outcry and a lawsuit from the asbestos industry and product manufacturers, who said the ban would cause “death by regulation” to the asbestos industry. That’s the same claim coal companies and lawmakers from coal-producing states are making about the EPA’s new power plant rule: that the EPA is waging a War on Coal, and that its regulations will hasten the demise of the coal industry.
“The Obama EPA has waged an all-out War on Coal, promulgating a series of rules and regulations seeking to eliminate the United States coal industry, and the very good jobs, and low cost electricity, which it provides,” Murray Energy said in a release after filing its lawsuit against the EPA. “Indeed, the lives and livelihoods of entire families in many regions of America are being destroyed.”
Though not as immediately hazardous as asbestos, coal, too, poses a danger both to the miners are at risk of black lung disease and to the Americans whose risk of respiratory illnesses and a range of other health effects goes up as exposure to pollution increases.