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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to this amendment introduced by Congressman TED POE. This amendment would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing common-sense protections against carbon dioxide pollution and other greenhouse gases from big polluters.

The underlying legislation, H.R. 1, is replete with provisions like this. Instead of eliminating tax breaks for the oil and gas industries and choosing to adhere to the scientific evidence that carbon pollution is changing the climate and endangering our health and the environment, the Republican majority's continuing resolution slashes EPA's funding by almost a third and prohibits EPA from enforcing existing greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting requirements. The bill attacks the Clean Air Act directly so that EPA will be prevented from protecting public health and fighting climate change.

The Clean Air Act has a proven 40-year track record of cutting dangerous pollution to protect human health in a cost-effective manner that spurs innovation. According to EPA, the Clean Air Act prevented an estimated 843,000 asthma attacks, 18 million cases of respiratory illness among children, 672,000 cases of chronic bronchitis, 21,000 cases of heart disease, and 200,000 premature deaths.

The Clean Air Act continues to reduce air pollution and improve the health of children, seniors, and adults: the Clean Air Act has decreased lead emissions from cars by 95 percent, decreasing by 86 percent the number of children whose development is affected by lead exposure; by requiring all new diesel engines to be more than 90 percent cleaner, EPA will prevent more than 21,000 premature deaths and $160 billion in health costs every year by 2030; by phasing out the most dangerous ozone-depleting chemicals, EPA will cut the American incidences of non-melanoma skin cancer by 295 million by 2075; by launching the acid rain program, EPA has dramatically reduced soot and smog by levels that will reduce premature deaths by between 20,000 and 50,000 per year in 2010.

Since its enactment in 1970, the health benefits of the Clean Air Act have far outweighed industry's compliance costs, reducing toxic and health-threatening air pollutants by 60 percent while at the same time the economy grew by over 200 percent.

Now this legislation attempts to gut the Clean Air Act's pollution standards and repeal EPA's authority to limit health-threatening pollution in order to protect the profits of the big polluters.

It also prevents EPA from continuing to improve our health by updating its pollution standards and improving safeguards for public health. In addition, it repeals important Clean Air Act safeguards that are needed to create American clean energy jobs, reduce energy costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and increase our economic competitiveness.

It's time for us to stand up for clean air and the health of the American people rather than work for the polluters who want to interfere with EPA's efforts to reduce life-threatening pollution and turn back the clock on air quality.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and oppose the continuing resolution.


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