Dirty Air Deeds: Week of January 3, 2011

Today I begin a regular series to highlight recent attempts and harmful actions to weaken protections against air pollution.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

Cue the AC/DC.

Abolishing EPA’s Ability to Cut Dangerous Global Warming Pollution: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), joined by 46 co-sponsors, introduced a bill in Congress to eliminate EPA’s ability to reduce any global warming pollution from any pollution sources. Seeking to overrule a Supreme Court decision that recognized EPA’s authority to address this pollution, the members offered no alternative solution to cut the harmful pollution that causes climate disruption.

Handcuffing EPA to Prevent Available Solutions to Cut Dangerous Global Warming Pollution: Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), joined by 19 co-sponsors, introduced a House bill to prohibit any funding for EPA to carry out a market-based trading program under the Clean Air Act for greenhouse gases and, ominously, “for other purposes” unspecified; Mr. Poe has not made his bill text available yet. As with Ms. Blackburn’s broadside assault against Clean Air Act cleanup standards, Mr. Poe offered no alternative solution to cut the harmful pollution that causes climate disruption.

Eradicating Standards to Cut Toxic Air Pollution From Cement Plants: Rep. John R. Carter (R-TX) circulated a letter in the House last week urging his colleagues to co-sponsor a resolution overturning existing EPA standards to sharply cut toxic air pollution from cement kilns. EPA estimates its standards will reduce annual emissions of cement plants' mercury by 16,600 pounds (a 92% cut), acid gases by 5,800 tons (97% cut), soot pollution by 11,500 tons (92% cut) and sulfur dioxide pollution by 110,000 (78% cut). With this attack, Representative Carter prefers to allow the following hazards to occur every year without the protections afforded by the EPA standards: up to 2,500 premature deaths, 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma, 1,500 heart attacks, 32,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms, and 130,000 days of lost work. The standards will produce benefits of $6.7 billion to $18 billion annually, yielding benefits that outweigh costs by a factor of 7 to 20:1.

Industry Lobbyists’ Declaration of War on Clean Air Act Health Protections: The National Association of Manufacturers submitted a January 7th wish list of attacks on clean air safeguards to a key House Republican chairman, Representative Darrell Issa, after he invited industry suggestions for “reforming” regulations by EPA and other agencies. (Mr. Issa is leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he also co-sponsored the irresponsible bill introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn to abolish entirely EPA’s authority over greenhouse gas pollution.) The litany of health safeguards that NAM wants to weaken (or eliminate) includes standards for mercury, arsenic, lead and cancer-causing toxins from industrial plants; protective clean air standards for smog pollution; and standards to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. NAM’s member companies include AT&T, the Bayer Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Campbell Soup Company, Caterpillar, General Electric, Hershey, Merck, Sony, Verizon, Volvo, Weyerhaeuser and Xerox. One has to ask whether these companies really want to subject the American people to the hazards that these pollutants cause and to prevent EPA from doing its job? Or is NAM not speaking for these companies when the lobbying group attacks important health standards?