TRAIN Act on Collision Course with Environment, Health

**Update:  An amendment added by  Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) in Full Committee has made the TRAIN Act an entirely different, and much more deadly, bill.  This is because the current version of TRAIN could permanently block two clean air safeguards—the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which curbs smog and soot pollution from power plants that crosses state lines, and the Mercury and Air Toxics standards, which limits mercury and other toxic air pollution. This legislation would sacrifice tens of thousands of lives, pollute the air we breathe, and expose our children, families, and communities to toxic air pollutants that cause illness and developmental disorders, particularly in small children and the unborn.  To learn more about the CURRENT version of TRAIN, see here.

Tomorrow, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a markup on the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011,” or “TRAIN Act” (H.R. 2401). A markup by the full Energy and Commerce Committee is expected on Monday and Tuesday. 

The TRAIN Act is essentially designed to make a train wreck out of a specific list of life-saving public health protections provided by the Clean Air Act.  It would do this by requiring a committee of cabinet secretaries to analyze, and thus potentially delay, long-overdue safeguards that provide vital public health protections. Delays in implementing protections would lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths every year. Rules that would be subjected to this redundant re-analysis and red tape include proposed standards for ozone, which could save up to 12,000 lives and result in as many as 420,000 fewer lost days of work and 2.1 million fewer school absences per year.

Aside from undermining, delaying, and weakening critical public health protections, the bill completely ignores the sweeping benefits that regulations provide.  That’s right!  While the bill requires the committee to examine the costs of regulations, it allows them to forego any consideration of the vast benefits we reap from them.  Given that the benefits of regulation have repeatedly been shown to exceed the costs, excluding any consideration of benefits creates an extremely unbalanced picture.  Indeed, OMB concluded in its annual report to Congress that the cost of major regulations issued from October 1, 1999 to September 30, 2009 ranged from $43 - $55 billion, while the benefits ranged from $128 - $616 billion. 

Not only are the studies required under the TRAIN Act intentionally skewed to make regulations appear too costly, but they are also redundant, wasting agency time and taxpayer money.  Indeed, both EPA and OMB already perform the studies mandated by the TRAIN Act. Additionally, numerous Executive Orders and regulatory review laws require similar analyses. 

Lastly, in order to pay for the costs it will impose, the TRAIN Act delivers another big blow to the environment by reducing funding for the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), a law that has enjoyed strong bipartisan support due to its success in providing cost-effective health and environmental benefits, and creating American jobs. In a 2008 report to Congress, EPA estimated that more than $20 in health benefits are generated for every dollar spent on the DERA program.  Axing funds for one of our nation’s most effective and widely supported anti-pollution programs to pay for a law that will cause pollution makes the TRAIN Act even more destructive. 

For more information on the TRAIN Act, please see here.

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