Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other EPW Committee members released the following statement in response to a bill introduced today by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) in the House that would hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to implement the Clean Air Act and permanently block the agency from curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. The Inhofe-Upton bill would block EPA from complying with the U.S. Supreme Court's direction to address carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.
Senator Boxer said: "This bill is an assault on the Clean Air Act and threatens the health and well-being of all Americans. One of EPA's core missions is to protect children and families from dangerous air pollution, and it is irresponsible to prevent EPA from holding major industrial polluters accountable. As recent polls have shown, including one by the American Lung Association, this bill is out of step with the American public who strongly support environmental safeguards."
Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, said: "The legislation introduced today is short-sighted and politically driven, and would be harmful to the health and well-being of all Americans. I respectfully disagree with the approach taken by some of my House and Senate colleagues to deny the EPA the ability to protect American's health by regulating harmful carbon air pollution emissions. This debate is about whether we are we going to be guided by decades of science from thousands of respected scientists and seize this opportunity to lead the world in the emerging clean energy economy, or are we going to turn our back on the science and wait on the sidelines. The EPA's clean air programs have repeatedly shown huge returns for the investment in lives saved, reduced health care costs, and clean energy jobs. I believe a responsible approach to regulating carbon pollution will yield similar benefits for public health and our economic bottom line and that's what we should focus on moving forward."
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chair of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, said: "These attacks on the Clean Air Act will take us back to a time when public health took a backseat to big polluters. EPA must be allowed to follow the advice of its scientists and set air pollution standards that protect our health and the health of our children."
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, said: "Scientists, citizens, and even the Supreme Court have spoken: EPA should regulate air pollution and safeguard human health. This legislation is a direct assault on the Clean Air Act, and I will fight it with every legislative tool available."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Chair of the Subcommittee on Children's Health and Environmental Responsibility, said: "It's simple -- this bill would undermine the Clean Air Act in order to protect polluters, not people. The Supreme Court and the best climate science compelled the Environmental Protection Agency to act and protect the health and welfare of our citizens. Legislation to derail that effort is highly misguided."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said: "We need strong protections for the air we breathe and the water we drink. These extreme attacks on the Clean Air Act protect polluters while putting the public health at risk. There is overwhelming, nationwide support for the Clean Air Act. This assault on our environmental protections moves us in the wrong direction."
As required by law, EPA is working to reduce air pollution by setting out a modest, incremental and flexible plan for the largest polluters in the country, which will improve the health of American families and children. In its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court said:
"Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of "air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gasses..."
EPA's long history of successfully implementing the Clean Air Act was reflected in a recent report showing that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature deaths in the year 2010 alone. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 230,000 premature deaths. EPA also reports that the number of asthma attacks prevented by Clean Air Act programs is expected to increase from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in the next decade. Exposure to air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, lost days at school and work, emergency room visits, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and premature deaths.