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Public Statements

EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank our leader from California.

I just want to say that these bills represent a toxic assault that compromises public health for polluter wealth. Republicans are continuing their war on the environment with episode 37 of the Clean Air Act repeal-a-thon. It is a tried-and-true, three-part Republican strategy:

First, pass legislation that repeals regulations that have already been set. Second, indefinitely delay new regulations from ever being set. And third, just for good measure, include a provision that eviscerates the very underpinnings of effective Federal law and deters any effort to protect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Make no mistake, that is what we are doing here this week. These bills block and indefinitely delay implementation of the rules that would reduce hazardous air pollution, such as mercury, lead, and cancer-causing substances released from cement kilns and industrial boilers, and do so in callous disregard for adverse impacts those pollutants have on public health, particularly on the health of infants and children.

Republicans have decided to stage their own public event today on the floor: Occupy Stall Street. But lest you think that Republicans always want to delay regulations, it turns out that sometimes they want to speed up the wheels.

Republicans voted to tell EPA to hurry up and make decisions to issue air permits for drilling rigs off the pristine coast of Alaska. Republicans have voted to give the Department of the Interior a mere 30 days to approve permit applications for drilling in the gulf at the same time they block legislation to implement any drilling reform in the wake of the BP disaster. And they've also voted to reduce the time allowed for environmental review so that the State Department would approve the Keystone pipeline as soon as possible.

But when it comes to regulations that would decrease the amount of toxic pollutants in our air or water, apparently the same Federal agencies that evaluate hazardous pollutants in the first place just need more time to review the science, more time to understand the technologies, more time before doing anything to make our water safer to drink, make our air safer to breathe, and protect the health of children around the country.

And it also turns out that Republicans don't always turn a blind eye towards the health effects of toxic chemicals. Three months ago, as our country stood on the edge of default due to Tea Party brinksmanship, House Republicans chose to vigorously debate a bill to ban compact fluorescent light bulbs. During that debate, Republicans repeatedly told us that the mercury vapor from those light bulbs is dangerous and that exposing our citizens to the harmful effects of the mercury contained in CFL light bulbs is likely to pose a hazard for years to come. Yet the bills considered today would result in nearly 16,600 pounds of extra mercury vapors being released directly into the air, and that's just in 1 year. That is the equivalent of 2.5 billion compact fluorescent light bulbs. And the mercury released as a result of these bills is not the kind you can sweep off the living room floor or throw into a trash can. This is the mercury released directly into the air that we all breathe and finds its way into the food that we eat.

If the regulation to remove mercury from cement plants--which is already 13 years overdue--is delayed for even 1 year, up to 2,500 people will die prematurely, there will be 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1,500 people will suffer heart attacks.

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman.

If the regulation to remove mercury, lead, and cancer-causing toxins from incinerators and industrial boilers--which is already 11 years overdue--is delayed for even 1 year, there will be 6,600 people who will die prematurely and people will miss 320,000 days of work and school.

The Republicans are presenting yet another false choice to the American people. We do not have to choose between manufacturing and mercury. We do not have to choose between concrete and cancer. We can have both clean air and a healthy manufacturing sector.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this terrible Republican cancer-causing bill out here on the floor today.

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Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself 1 minute.

What we have here today is just one more episode in what is a 1-year Republican control of the Congress, which has seen a litany of industries that no longer want to make the air cleaner, that no longer want to make the water safer to drink.

We come out here on the House floor with Republican leadership in order to repeal the laws, to water down the laws to protect children from mercury, to protect children from contracting asthma. That's what this is all about. The EPA used to stand for the Environmental Protection Agency. Now it stands for ``every polluter's ally'' out here. They all come out here, and they want to ensure that the laws are watered down.

That's what we're fighting. That's what Democrats are fighting here. We're fighting to ensure that the water stays clean, that the air stays safe to breathe. The boiler industry is saying, no, there's not enough mercury that gets sent up into the air; there's not enough mercury that goes into the lives of children in our country. We're going to fight that.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The Republicans have yet to bring a job creation bill out here on the House floor in the 10 months they have controlled the Congress.

Instead, what they're doing is responding to industries who do not want to make the air cleaner, who do not want to make the water safer for the children of our country to drink and to breathe. And, instead, they make the case that making the environment cleaner kills jobs when we know that all evidence says it creates more jobs, because it spurs innovation in new technologies that create jobs that make our economy stronger. Instead, they argue that what the country needs is more mercury, more arsenic, more cadmium, more asthmas, more mercury poisoning, more carcinogens that harm the health of our country.

So not only do they not help the health of our economy by bringing out a jobs bill, instead they bring out bills that hurt the health of the American people where they live and their families. That's what their agenda has been all about since the day they took over in January, and that's the agenda that we are voting on here today.

Vote ``no'' on this Republican health-killing bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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