Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) is a bottomless source of slipshod attacks on environmental protections and the EPA. This year, Paul insisted that the EPA “turns everyday life into a federal crime” and regulations like the Clean Air Act have somehow “done more harm than good.”
Continuing his crusade against breathing, Paul is forcing a vote on a resolution this Thursday to overturn the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, a regulation that “seeks to reduce smog and particulate-forming pollution from power plants in 27 eastern states.” But not all Republicans are falling in line. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced yesterday that he would vote against Paul’s resolution, “a rare instance of a split within the Republican party over environmental policy.” His reason is simple: Air pollution “makes our citizens sick“:
“Air pollution blowing in from other states makes our citizens sick, especially children and older Tennesseans,” Al[e]xander said. “It is also a jobs issue — pollution makes our mountains smoggy, driving away tourists. And it makes it harder for communities to secure the air-quality permits that allow auto suppliers and other manufacturers to locate in, and bring jobs to, our state.”
Alexander is correct. The EPA notes that this protection actually prevents “as many as 34,000 premature deaths by limiting harmful air pollution that crosses state lines.” As an economic driver, clean air regulations pushed the GDP in 2010 to “1.5 percent higher than it would have been without the Clean Air Act.” The Institute for Clean Air Companies estimated that complying with just one clean air standard created about 29,000 full time jobs each year for the past seven years.
The White House threatened to veto this resolution that “would cause substantial harm to public health and undermine our Nation’s longstanding commitment to clean up pollution from power plants.” Noting that the rule also prevents “more than ten thousand heart attacks and hospital visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and alleviate hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses,” the White House points out the rule “will yield hundreds of billions of dollars in net benefits each year.”