I applaud the group of 34 Senators who have taken a strong stand in favor of clean air for all Americans. Led by Senators Sanders (D-VT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Carper (D-DE), and Kerry (D-MA), these lawmakers introduced a resolution calling for a continued commitment to the Clean Air Act and to the EPA’s ability to protect our families from dangerous pollution.
Ordinarily it wouldn’t require legislative action to preserve a hugely popular, 40-year-old law that saves 160,000 American lives every year. But these are not ordinary times.
This week, several efforts to undermine clean air could come to a head. The House is poised to vote on a bill introduced by Representative Fred Upton of Michigan that would overturn the EPA’s scientific finding on greenhouse gases and prevent the EPA from setting limits on carbon pollution. The Senate may also vote on a few similar amendments sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Meanwhile, the Senate and the House and the president are trying to reach agreement on a spending bill to keep the government operating for the rest of this fiscal year. The House has passed a version loaded with 19 anti-environmental policy riders, including some that would block the EPA from updating safeguards for smog, carbon, and other toxic pollutants.
Not one of these riders would save the government money—indeed they would create costs for families who suffer from health problems caused by more pollution—and they have no place in a spending bill.
These riders would benefit dirty industries, but they do not represent what voters want.
NRDC conducted polls in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin, and across the board, voters firmly support clean air, the EPA’s authority to set limits on pollutants in general, and the need to reduce carbon pollution in particular.
In Michigan, for instance, 76 percent of the respondents said the EPA should decide which pollution reductions are necessary, including 73 percent of Independents. In Pennsylvania, 72 percent of respondents support limiting carbon pollution from big power plants and other industrial facilities, including 65 percent of Independents. The findings were similar in all the states we polled.
The 34 senators who signed the resolution understand that Americans value the air they breathe. They recognize that our nation has worked hard over the past 40 years to improve air quality, and they know voters don’t want to go backward to dirtier, darker days.
I welcome the leadership of these senators, and I call on other lawmakers to sign onto their resolution. There should be 100 cosponsors in support of a law that improves the lives of all Americans.