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Public Statements

Disapproval of EPA Emission Standards Rule

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SANDERS. Madam President, let me begin by saying I suspect that I have the strongest lifetime proworker voting record in the Senate. I want to create jobs, not cut jobs. What Senator Boxer and Senator Cardin and others are talking about is creating meaningful, good-paying jobs as we retrofit coal-burning plants so they do not poison the children of Vermont and other States around the country.

So to Senator Inhofe and others, I say respectfully: Stop poisoning our children. Let them grow up in a healthy way.

The Clean Air Act is set to cut mercury pollution by 90 percent using technology that is available right now. That would be good news since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say mercury can cause children to have ``brain damage, mental retardation, blindness, seizures, and the inability to speak.''

We get exposed to mercury simply by eating fish contaminated with it, and we have seen fish advisories in 48 out of the 50 States in this country. Wouldn't it be nice if the men and women and the kids who go fishing could actually eat the fish they catch rather than worry about being made sick by those fish?

Powerplants are responsible for one-third of the mercury deposits in the United States, but Senator Inhofe's resolution would let them keep right on polluting. His resolution would also eliminate protections against cancer-causing pollutants such as arsenic, as well as toxic soot that causes asthma attacks. Leading medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Nurses Association have said ``Senator Inhofe's resolution would leave millions of Americans permanently at risk from toxic air pollution from powerplants that directly threaten pulmonary, cardiovascular and neurological health and development.''

That is not Bernie Sanders saying that; it is the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Nurses Association.

We are talking about preventing thousands and thousands of premature deaths. We are talking about preventing heart attacks. We are talking about what is a very serious problem in my State, and that is asthma. Maybe Senator Inhofe would like to join me in the State of Vermont--I go to a lot of schools and I very often ask the kids and ask the school nurses how many kids are suffering with asthma, and many hands go up. Thank you very much. We do not want to see more asthma in Vermont or in other States that are downwind.

We hear a lot from some of our Republican friends about jobs. The truth is if we are aggressive in cleaning up these coal-powered plants, we can create, and we have already seen created, many good, decent-paying jobs. In fact, if we invest--if the utility industries will invest in pollution controls, we can create almost 300,000 jobs a year for the next 5 years--meaningful, good-
paying jobs making sure that our air is cleaner and that our people do not get sick.

Let's talk about job creation and cleaning up our environment. This is not just theory. I am the chairman of the Clean Jobs Subcommittee. We heard from Constellation Energy, which installed pollution controls at their

1280-megawatt coal plant in Maryland that cut mercury emissions by 90 percent. This $885 million investment created at its peak 1,385 jobs onsite at the plant for boilermakers, steamfitters, pipefitters, operating engineers, ironworkers, electricians, carpenters, teamsters, laborers--just the kind of jobs we want to create. The American people know we have to rebuild our infrastructure. We can create jobs doing that. This is one of the areas where we can create decent-paying jobs and help keep our kids from getting sick.


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