Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and EPW Committee Members released the following statement in response to the Senate's rejection of four proposals that would interfere with the implementation of the Clean Air Act and block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from doing its job of curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. The Senate's action to vote down the measures today avoided an unprecedented repeal of protections under the Clean Air Act.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, said: "These attacks on the Clean Air Act would have been bad for jobs, bad for our emerging clean energy companies, and bad for America's health. I will stand firm with my colleagues now and in the future to oppose such misguided measures and to support leading public health groups; clean energy companies; environment and conservation organizations; as well as healthy kids and families."
Senator Boxer said: "Today, the Senate stood up for children and families by defeating four amendments that would have interfered with EPA's efforts to protect the health and safety of the American public. The Clean Air Act has had strong bipartisan support since it was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. The American people support EPA's efforts to safeguard us from polluters, and I will continue to fight any effort to weaken the Clean Air Act."
Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, said: "Forty years ago, naysayers claimed the Clean Air Act was too costly and would doom our economy. We heard the same predictions in 1990 when we strengthened the Clean Air Act. But the naysayers were wrong. Since 1970, the Clean Air Act's benefits have outweighed costs by 30 to 1, and our Gross Domestic Product has grown over 200 percent. Cleaner air has saved thousands of lives, billions of dollars in health care costs and it has grown our economy. By voting down these amendments, we have kept America on the right course."
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chair of the Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health Subcommittee, said: "If you think smog is ugly in the air, imagine how ugly it looks inside a child's lungs. Weakening the Clean Air Act puts the profits of polluters above the health of our children -- and no parent should have to worry about letting their children play outside because the air is too dirty."
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chair of the Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee, said, "I find it unconscionable that in the year 2011 the Clean Air Act is being attacked by big polluters and their allies in Congress who want to gut this successful public health law. We know the very real health benefits of cleaner air, and that is why I introduced a Resolution, S. Res. 119, with 33 co-sponsors, to fight back against efforts to deregulate polluters."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the Oversight Subcommittee, said: "Today, the Senate sent a strong message that we stand by the Clean Air Act and the health benefits it provides to all Americans. Last year alone, the Clean Air Act saved 160,000 lives, and we are confident that many more lives will be saved in the future. We should not be playing politics with public health."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Chair of the Children's Health and Environmental Responsibility Subcommittee, said: "The ongoing assault against the Clean Air Act, as evidenced by the McConnell amendment, represents the dramatic shift to ideological politics that have taken over Washington. The Clean Air Act was passed with strong support from Republicans and Democrats before being signed into law by President Nixon to protect the integrity of our air supply. Today, instead of protecting the health and well-being of our people, some are protecting the profits of large polluters, and I simply think that's wrong."
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said: "The Clean Air Act has prevented thousands of cases of respiratory illness and made our communities healthier for our families. The Act has improved the quality of life across our nation. It has succeeded because of carefully-crafted, science-based standards. These standards are continuously subject to short-sighted, special interest attacks like the amendments we considered today. We must, on behalf of our families' health, defeat these attacks."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said: "Strong protections are needed for the air we breathe and the water we drink. These failed votes show that the American people won't stand for these extreme attacks on the Clean Air Act that put our health at risk. American families overwhelmingly support the Clean Air Act. These assaults are the wrong priorities, and move us in the wrong direction."