Dirty Air Act Roundup

Public health organizations oppose Murkowski resolution; DOT finds Murkowski will block cleaner, more efficient cars; Murkowski struts past protesters to attend lobbyist fundraiser for her; American public power association misleads its members

Opposition continues to grow to the Dirty Air Act — Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) Resolution of Disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding, S.J. Res 26. CAPAF’s Director of Climate Strategy, Daniel J. Weiss, has the story.

Students from the Clean Energy Works Campaign don surgical masks before visiting the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday to ask her to lobby for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Photo by Tom Williams/Roll Call.

Murkowski’s Congressional Review Act resolution would overturn EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollution threatens public health. On February 25, twelve public health organizations announced their opposition to the Dirty Air Act. The U.S. Department of Transportation determined that — contrary to her statements — Sen. Murkowski’s resolution would undo the clean car rules proposed last year by President Obama. Meanwhile, the American Public Power Association declared support for the Dirty Air Act based on claims that just aren’t so.

The dozen national public health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Environmental Health Network urged the Senate to oppose the Dirty Air Act. Their letter to the senate notes that the EPA’s endangerment finding determined that climate change can cause, “more wildfires, degraded air quality”¦harm to water resources and harm to agriculture.” All of these effects would harm public health. An older version of their letter is available here, and the most recent one will be online shortly.

These health organizations joined the American Lung Association (ALA) in opposition to Sen. Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act. Charles Connor, the President and CEO of the ALA, reminded senators that “the Clean Air Act mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency follow the science and then implement the law accordingly,” and that Murkowski’s amendment is “a cynical attempt to disregard the science and block the enforcement of the Clean Air Act.”

Despite her protestations to the contrary, Sen. Murkowski’s measure would also harm public health because it would prevent EPA from issuing new limits on tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gas pollution from motor vehicles, due by April 1, 2010. These rules are part of a joint rule making with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is supposed to issue more efficient fuel economy standards by the same date. Senator Dianne Feinstein raised this issue with DOT.

“Q: Can NHTSA [National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration] issue a vehicles rule on time if Murkowski passes?

“NHTSA A: NHTSA is obligated by statute to promulgate standards for model year 2012 vehicles by no later than April 1, 2010 (i.e., 18 months prior to the start of a new model year). At this late date, it is unlikely that NHTSA would have sufficient time to decouple its rulemaking from the joint rulemaking effort in time to meet the April 1 deadline.”

In other words, if the Murkowski resolution passes, it would delay more efficient fuel economy standards for at least one year. This would increase U.S. consumption of foreign and domestic oil, which threatens our national security.

Meanwhile, Senator Murkowski continues to receive money from lobbyists with big oil and other special interest clients that hope to block action on global warming. The Sunlight Foundation reports that she held a fundraiser with donations from lobbyists representing Peabody Coal, Duke Energy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute. To attend her fundraiser, Senator Murkowski had to walk pass protesters wearing surgical masks with stickers that read “NO Dirty Air Act.” She has received nearly $800,000 and counting in campaign cash from the oil and gas, and utility industries.

Finally, the American Public Power Association — which “represents the interests of more than 2,000 publicly-owned not-for-profit electric utility systems across the country” public endorsed the Dirty Air Act. The APPA falsely claims that:

“EPA has nonetheless decided to move aggressively to regulate GHGs, as evidenced by its most recent decisions and proposed rulemakings.”

APPA made this claim the day after EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote eight senators that

No facility will be required to address greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permitting of new construction or modifications before 2011.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Energy Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA) responded to APPA by revealing that

APP A appears to be actively misinforming its members about this issue. If the EPA’s scientific finding was reversed, as APPA proposes, then EPA would be unable to finalize proposed tailpipe standards for automobiles that cut carbon pollution and reduce our dependence on oil. However, when APP A informed its members that the association had taken a position on SJ. Res. 26, the Murkowski resolution, APPA stated that whether the resolution would prevent EPA from issuing tailpipe standards for automobiles ‘remains a point of debate between the lawyers.’ APPA’s staff knows this is not the case, because they have informed our staff that APPA has reviewed Administrator Jackson’s February 22, 2010, letter to Sen. Rockefeller.

The two chairmen ask the APPA to clarify its position on the EPA’s scientific findings, explain the “scientific basis” for over turning the endangerment finding, and explain their position on the regulation of carbon pollution from automobiles. The Congressmen want answers by March 3rd.

Representatives Waxman and Markey report that “numerous APPA members have informed us over the last 24 hours that they do not support APPA’s position.”