Don't Let Rep. Jim Gerlach Take Your Breath Away

Gerlach's Constituent Oppose His Vote to Block EPA

Check out this new Web ad focusing on Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach’s campaign to destroy needed clean air health protections:

Gerlach was a key backer of the recent U.S. House of Representatives assault on health protections under the guise of passage of the Continuing Resolution needed to keep the government funded.

In backing this unprecedented attack on clean air act protections for Americans, just how far out of step is Jim Gerlach with his constituents back home?  A February 2011 survey conducted in Gerlach’s congressional district found:

  • 72 percent – including 69 percent of Independents and 48 percent of Republicans –oppose the vote by Rep. Gerlach to “block the EPA from limiting carbon dioxide pollution.”

  • 76 percent of Rep. Gerlach’s constituents– including 57 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Independents -- said the EPA should move ahead to “reduce carbon pollution without delay.”
  • 78 percent – including 62 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Independents -- think EPA scientists, not Congress, should decide what pollution limits are needed.
  • 76 percent – including 58 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Independents -- think “Congress should let the EPA do its job” versus “Congress should decide when and how greenhouse gases should be regulated,” which was favored by only 24 percent.
  • 86 percent – including 75 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Independents -- support the EPA’s mission of “protect(ing) the air we breathe and the water we drink with safeguards that hold corporate polluters accountable for the pollution they release into our environment.”

It turns out Congressman Gerlach’s constituents have excellent reasons to disagree with him when it comes to protecting clean air and water. For starters, there’s the new report out this week showing the Clean Air Act has saved millions of American’s lives, and has saved Americans over $2 trillion in health costs and lost productivity.

And consider these facts about these major Pennsylvania environmental problems that would go untreated if Jim Gerlach has his way: 

  • Cement kilns emit dangerous amounts of mercury in Pennsylvania.  The Essroc kilns in Nazareth, PA emit 163 pounds of mercury annually  (Source: Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project, Cementing a Toxic Legacy?, July 2008,  )  The Lafarge Cement kilns in Whitehall, PA (one of 5 kilns in the area) emit 28 pounds of mercury annually.  The plant is built along the Lehigh River, which flows into Allentown. (Source: Earthjustice, Interactive Cement Kiln Map.) Yet the continuing resolution includes an amendment (#165) from Rep. Carter (R-TX) that prevents EPA from using funds to implement new air toxic pollution rules for cement kilns.  The EPA estimates that the cement kiln rules could prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths nationwide each year and save as much as $18 billion in health costs by reducing fine particulate matter emissions.  (Source: EPA Fact Sheet.)
  • According to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project, toxic coal ash from 2 sites in Pennsylvania (Hatfield’s Ferry and Bruce Mansfield aka Little Blue) is contaminating drinking and surface water with arsenic and heavy metals. (Source: Environmental Integrity Project, In Harm’s Way, Aug. 26, 2010.) Some citizens of Western Pennsylvania believe a coal ash waste disposal facility in Beaver County, PA is to blame for an array of health issues. (Source: Is a Pennsylvania Coal Ash Facility Contaminating Water and Giving Residents Cancer?, Oct. 13, 2010.) Yet the Continuing Resolution includes the amendment (#217) from Rep. McKinley (R-WV) to prohibit EPA from spending funds for regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste.
  • The Continuing Resolution would cut more than $1.4 billion from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which funds water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, pollution control, and watershed management.  In Pennsylvania, this will result in a cut of more than $55 million and the loss of more than 1500 jobs. (Source: Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democratic Staff, State-by-State Cuts to Clean Water State Revolving Fund Investments, Feb. 14, 2011,   )
  • The American Lung Association estimates that over 260,000 Pennsylvania children have asthma, a condition made worse and more dangerous by air pollution. Yet the Continuing Resolution includes amendments that would make air pollution worse by preventing the EPA from updating badly-needed clean air safeguards, including: an amendment (#563) that blocks EPA from updating national air quality safeguards for soot pollution (coarse particulate matter), by Rep. Noem (R-SD); an amendment (#466) that would allow unlimited carbon pollution from big power plants and other industrial polluters, by Rep. Poe (R-TX); and an amendment (#165) that blocks EPA from updating clean air safeguards to protect our health and would increase soot, mercury, arsenic and other cancer-causing toxic pollution from cement kilns, by Rep. Carter (R-TX). (Asthma prevalence source: American Lung Association, 2010.)

It is worth noting that over the course of his career, Congressman Gerlach has taken over $195,000 from polluters. When it comes to doing the bidding of polluters by trashing clean air health protections, Congressman Jim Gerlach really does take your breath away!