Climate

The Top Ten Lethal Legislators and the Dirty Secrets Behind Their Clean Air Attacks

Last week the U.S. House passed the sweeping anti-environment TRAIN act.  Pete Altman looks at the corporate polluters and “lethal legislators” who made it happen in this cross-post from the NRDC blog

The US House [has passed] a bill that could cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives and cause hundreds of thousands of children to suffer from more frequent and more severe asthma attacks.

The bill in question, the TRAIN (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation)  Act would indefinitely delay clean-up of dangerous power plant air pollution, including mercury, soot, cancer-causing dioxins and acid gases. The minimum delays mandated by the bill would put on hold until at least 2013 two critical Clean Air Act updates: the Cross – State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants.

The bill started out with a more innocuous goal of creating a new government review panel to slow down the EPA’s efforts to reduce pollution. But thanks to amendments added by Reps Bob Latta (OH-5) and Ed Whitfield (KY-1) the bill takes direct aim at Americans’ lungs. As my colleague John Walke describes it:

TRAIN already was the most irresponsible dirty air legislation ever to be brought to the House floor. But two Republican amendments to the bill quietly introduced last night contain far more extreme attacks on health protections that take us into reckless territory never before seen in Congress…. The bill would cost a minimum of 34,000 lives, with indefinite delay allowing over 25,000 additional deaths every year.

A reasonable person might ask: “Why would members of Congress vote to increase pollution that will kill tens of thousands of Americans?” But it turns out that sadly, a lot of members have been throwing their support behind measures that would put kids and lives at risk.

For example, according to the website DirtySecrets.org, 37 states have Lethal Legislators who have already demonstrated an appetite for bills like TRAIN that would leave behind a legacy of death and illness throughout the nation.

Texas leads the pack with 21 Lethal Legislators, followed by Pennsylvania with 10. Georgia and Ohio have 7 lethal legislators apiece. And more, like Iowa (3), North Carolina (8), Oregon (3), Minnesota (5). The site also provides information on polluter contributions to these lethal legislators.

Let’s focus on Reps Latta and Whitfield themselves. Thanks to DirtySecrets.org, we know that:

Rep. Bob Latta (OH-5) supports measures that would increase pollution from cement kilns, power plants and industrial boilers and cost 81,000 Americans their lives. Over 250,000 kids in Ohio with asthma would also be at greater risk for more frequent and dangerous asthma attacks. Note that Rep Latta is also pushing an amendment to TRAIN that would allow polluters to have sway over scientists in setting safety standards for pollution. I should mention that according to the site, Latta has taken at least $100,000 from polluters during his congressional career.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-1) is supporting proposals that would increase pollution from power plants and industrial boilers, measure that would cost 56,200 Americans their lives and put the state’s 95,000 kids with asthma at greater risk for more frequent and dangerous asthma attacks. Note that Whitfield wants to make the TRAIN act even worse by permanently blocking stronger pollution safeguards for power plants. Whitfield has taken at least a whopping $704,000 from polluters.

Here’s a rundown of the top ten lethal legislators, sorted by how much they’ve taken from polluters during their congressional careers. The contributions data comes from OpenSecrets.org and includes donors connected to the utility, oil and gas, coal and mining sectors.

  1. Joe Barton (TX-6) has taken over $3,000,000 from polluter and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 81,200 lives at risk.
  2. John Shimkus (IL-19) has taken over $939,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 56,200 lives at risk.
  3. Pete Sessions (TX-32) has taken over $927,000 and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 25,000 lives at risk.
  4. Fred Upton (MI-6) has taken over $863,000 and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 33,450 lives at risk.
  5. Shelley Moore Capito (WV-2) has taken over $838,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 81,200 lives at risk.
  6. Dan Boren (OK-2) has taken over $836,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 47,750 lives at risk.
  7. John A. Sullivan (OK-1) has taken over $833,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 67,450 lives at risk.
  8. Kay Granger (TX-12) has taken over $789,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 58,450 lives at risk.
  9. Gene Green (TX-29) has taken over $757,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 33,450 lives at risk.
  10. K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) has taken over $746,000 from polluters and supports Lethal Legislation that could put as many as 25,000 lives at risk.

If this appalls you, tell your Reps in Congress to protect Americans and our children from dangerous air pollution by opposing TRAIN and the Latta and Whitfield Amendments.

Pete Altman

6 Responses to The Top Ten Lethal Legislators and the Dirty Secrets Behind Their Clean Air Attacks

  1. hankster says:

    Calling them “lethal legislators” is too mild. Go for the jugular; call them the “Kid Killing Congressmen,” and the industries that fund them should be referred to as the “Kid Killer Cartel.” Refer to them in rallies and demonstrations with them chanting phrases like: “We kill kids for fun and profit — we’re hooked on carbon and we won’t get off it.” “That seniors and children will die is fine, as long as they’re yours but just not mine.”

    Remember how effective it was when crowds of young people haunted and hounded Lyndon Johnson with Hey! Hey! LBJ; how many kids did you kill today?” Johnson stepped down.

    These congressmen are guilty of the ultimate corruption — selling their most defenseless constituents’ lives for campaign dollars. It reminds me of when John Boehner handed out cash from the tobacco industry to legislators on the floor of congress, as long as they voted the “right” way. If the opponents of this corrupt clique could tag them with this label in the next campaign and make it stick, they should have a much easier time in defeating them .

  2. Mark says:

    There are a large number of governmental agencies which are run by presidential appointees. These appointees must be approved of by congress. What happens when the Congress and the President are all on the same party line is that the vast bureaucratic ship of state turns towards a direction that looks a lot like a centralization of power and a primary dominion. These are things which the founders of America sought to avoid.
    http://msmignoresit.blogspot.com/2011/09/appointed-bureaucracy.html

  3. pedro says:

    No surprise that 2 out of 5 OK Congress critters voted for this. Boren is not running again and Sullivan is bought and paid for by the oil industry. Plus I am not sure either is smart enough to understand the implications of pollution.

  4. Nina says:

    No wonder Texas is burning. Half of them are from Texas.

  5. abby says:

    notice all the Texans on the list? that’s because the oil industry owns Texas…. Texas is their own private fiefdom — those of us in Texas who want a clean environment are demonized….
    by the way, Gov Good Hair Perry the Pharisee loves the oil industry and the pharmaceutical companies….

  6. Doug says:

    It only figures that Joe Barton would top this list. Especially after referring to a $20 billion escrow account established by BP to compensate victims of last year’s Gulf Oil Disaster at President Obama’s urging as a shakedown, even though no taxpayer dollars were used. That illustrates how pollluter money affects politicians.