Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and 30 colleagues today introduced a resolution calling for continued implementation of the Clean Air Act.
In the face of efforts by House Republicans and some senators to weaken the nation's clean air protections, the resolution which specifies the benefits of the Clean Air Act has 34 original cosponsors who and will continue to seek additional support from their colleagues.
The landmark law saves 160,000 Americans from premature death every year and helps avoid tens of thousands of cases of lung disease, heart attacks, and emergency room visits. The act also has reduced major air pollution by 41 percent over the last 20 years even as the economy grew by 64 percent.
Sanders said, "It is absolutely unconscionable that in the year 2011 the Congress is debating amendments to gut the Clean Air Act and I am going to fight back. I also think that at a time when House Republicans might force a government shutdown unless the EPA backs down from protecting public health, we must not let the budget process be used to deregulate polluters."
Whitehouse said, "Americans are expecting us to roll up our sleeves and get to work, solving today's pressing issues -- putting America back to work, and reducing the federal deficit. Instead, radical Republicans are using the budget process to push for extreme policy positions that would gut the Clean Air Act and roll back important public health protections. These same Republicans are literally demanding that we compromise our children's health to get a short-term budget deal."
Carper said, "For the last forty years, the EPA has use the Clean Air Act to foster economic growth and protect Americans from life threatening air pollution. Since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the EPA has saved thousands of lives and saved billions of dollars in health care costs, while keeping electricity rates -- adjusted for inflation - constant. At the same time American jobs in engineering and design, as well as in manufacturing, installing and operating pollution control and clean energy technology are being created to meet our clean air needs. Put it another way, the Clean Air Act benefits outweigh the costs by a margin of 30 to 1. Talk about a return on investment. It just doesn't get much better than that."
Kerry said, "Ever since Richard Nixon signed it into law, the Clean Air Act has saved tens of thousands of lives by curbing air pollution and helped jumpstart new technologies that created millions of jobs in the process. But somehow our political environment has become so divorced from reality, facts, science and history that today even a commonsense law like the Clean Air Act can be used as a partisan punching bag. This Resolution showcases just some of the Clean Air Act's many achievements, and I hope it will remind my colleagues that under this law we were able to grow our economy and cut harmful pollution that threatens our families."
The Senate is expected to vote soon on up to four amendments that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. An amendment by the Senate Republican Leadership would overturn EPA's scientific finding that greenhouse gas emissions are a public health threat and allow the biggest polluters to spew carbon pollution without restrictions. It also would undermine fuel economy standards that are projected to save drivers of new vehicles up to $2,800 at the gas pump, save more than 2 million barrels of oil per day (roughly as much as the U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf), and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
House Republicans are also reportedly pushing for riders attached to their budget bill, which would shut down Clean Air Act enforcement of big polluters' greenhouse gas emissions, to be included in a congressional budget deal.
Sanders' resolution is also sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Environment Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Democrat Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).