Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other EPW Committee members released the following statement in response to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee's approval of a bill that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. Public health organizations, including the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, as well as a number of scientists and medical professionals, have written letters in opposition to the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910), which was introduced by the Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).
Senator Boxer said: "The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed legislation today that will block EPA from protecting our children and families from pollution. The panel put the interests of politicians and big polluters ahead of the advice of medical experts and scientists who tell us EPA must act to make the air safer and cleaner for our children to breathe. I will continue to work with my colleagues to stop these reckless attacks on the Clean Air Act that jeopardize public health."
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, said: "The legislation approved today by the House Energy and Commerce committee is misguided and politically driven. The bill would be harmful to the health and well-being of Delawareans and all Americans. I respectfully disagree with the approach taken by some of my House colleagues to deny the EPA the ability to protect American's health by regulating harmful carbon air pollution emissions. The EPA's clean air programs have repeatedly shown huge returns for the investment in lives saved, reduced health care costs, and clean energy jobs. I believe a responsible approach to regulating carbon pollution will yield similar benefits for public health and our economic bottom line and that's what we should focus on moving forward."
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chair of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, said: "The legislation approved by House Republicans in the Energy Committee today rewards big polluters by crippling the EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act. Gutting this vital law is a clear and present danger that helps polluters while hurting our children. I will continue working to preserve critical environmental protections that keep our kids safe from toxic chemicals in the air."
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, said: "Legislation telling EPA it can't protect human health and the environment is akin to telling teachers to get out of the classroom. Students can't educate themselves, and polluters can't police themselves. The Upton bill is a combination of bad science, bad policy and bad ideas. I intend to do everything I can to make sure that it is never enacted."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight, said: "These short-sighted attempts to gut the Clean Air Act will stop the clean energy economy in its tracks, undermine gains in energy efficiency, and compromise our children's health. We should be working to create clean energy jobs and protect public health, not protecting polluters."
As required by law, EPA is working to reduce air pollution by setting out a modest, incremental and flexible plan for the largest polluters in the country, which will improve the health of American families and children. In its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court said:
"Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of "air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gasses..."
EPA's long history of successfully implementing the Clean Air Act was reflected in a recent report showing that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature deaths in the year 2010 alone. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 230,000 premature deaths. EPA also reports that the number of asthma attacks prevented by Clean Air Act programs is expected to increase from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in the next decade. Exposure to air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, lost days at school and work, emergency room visits, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and premature deaths.