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Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I appreciate his leadership on the Energy Subcommittee.
As a member of the full Energy and Commerce Committee, frankly, I'm ashamed that this House is actually considering legislation that puts public health decisions in the hands of the oil industry.
Title II of H.R. 4480 eliminates a core principle of the Clean Air Act with respect to smog. For over 40 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has set health-based air quality standards using scientific and medical evidence to identify the maximum safe levels of air pollution for human beings to breathe. Title II would do away with that precedent by requiring that the cost to industry be the primary consideration in determining healthy emission standards. Yes, if this legislation passes, health-based decisions will play second fiddle to dollar considerations for the first time.
Over the years, our air has become cleaner and safer because industry has had to comply with more stringent standards. Lead is no longer poisoning our children from the pump. There are fewer kids with asthma due to gas pollutants. And oil companies, rather than suffering, are now making record profits. We don't have to pass the hat for the oil companies. The five largest made $137 billion in profit last year and $33.5 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Our health decisions should be made by health experts, not our worst polluters.
H.R. 4480 continues the policy of the 112th Congress: if the oil industry asks, the oil industry gets, no matter the impact on American families.
Title II sets up a new interagency bureaucracy to conduct an impossible study of the alleged economic impact of several EPA rules to reduce pollution from refineries and fuels--which haven't even been proposed--using data that doesn't exist. In the meantime, this title blocks the EPA from finalizing several air quality protections that the oil industry would prefer go away.
Title II does nothing to protect the consumer from price spikes at the pump or to reduce our country's dependence on oil. Instead, it is a giveaway to the oil industry under the false pretense of lowering gasoline prices.
The oil industry doesn't want to reduce the amount of toxic air pollution spewing from its refineries. The oil industry doesn't want to produce cleaner burning gasoline. The oil industry would rather not construct new refineries that are more efficient and less damaging to the world's climate. Oil industry executives would prefer to pocket all their billions in annual profits rather than invest any of it in modern, less polluting technology.
I offered an amendment yesterday that would have simply said that the unnecessary and impossible study required under title II would be paid for by the one industry that most stands to gain from its implementation, Big Oil. My amendment was not made in order.
The American people deserve better than this. They deserve clean air and clean water. They deserve more than a few months of a transportation bill. They deserve a jobs package that will put millions to work, including teachers and construction workers and firefighters and police officers. They deserve affordable student loan rates. Instead, the Republicans of this House have elected to carve out additional privileges for Big Oil.
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