NRDC holds Congressmen Barletta and Holden Accountable for Dirty Air Votes

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the recent attacks by some members of Congress on clean air is that they thought no one would notice … or care.

Wrong!  And Congressmen Lou Barletta (PA-11) and Tim Holden (PA-17) will be finding out that you can’t get away with doing the bidding of big polluters when it means putting the health of Pennsylvanians at risk.

Today, a new round of television spots will remind Pennsylvania residents that Reps. Barletta, a Republican, and Holden, a Democrat, sided with polluters … and against the children, women and senior citizens of their state. 

You can see the Barletta TV ad here and the Holden spot here or scroll down to view. (Update - PoliticsPA wrote on the ad campaign and got responses from both members. Click here for more details on Barletta and Holden's dirty air votes.)

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the sponsor of the advertisements, explains:

“Representatives Lou Barletta and Tim Holden put polluters before Pennsylvania families and endangered kids’ health by voting against common sense clean air safeguards that would curb harmful air pollution. Barletta's and Holden’s constituents should know that their elected representatives are siding with greedy polluters who would increase the amount of dangerous toxic pollution in our air.”

While the ads focus on their H.R. 2401 TRAIN Act votes, Holden and Barletta also have supported other pro-polluter bills this year that would gut the Clean Air Act and increase the amount of toxic pollution in the air. 

The script reads:

For millions of asthmatic children, any day can feel like trying to breathe underwater.

Yet Congressman [Holden, Barletta] voted to let polluters dump mercury, soot, smog and arsenic into the air.

Toxic pollution that causes thousands of hospital visits, asthma-related illnesses and even deaths.

And if you think [Holden, Barletta] is going to stop protecting polluters on his own, well….don’t hold your breath.  

We’ve got to tell [Holden, Barletta]:

Stop attacking the Clean Air Act. Start protecting our kids.

Why are we focusing on these two Reps? They have demonstrated a consistent lack of concern for the health of kids and families vulnerable to dirty air, by voting for and co-sponsoring legislation that blocks updates to various clean air safeguards.

Representative Holden has taken over $340,000 from polluters during his congressional career

Representative Holden's Dirty Air Deeds in 2011:

  • October: Holden Voted for the TRAIN Act, Which Would Block Clean Air Act Standards For Power Plants. This bill would block two critical Clean Air Act standards (the Mercury and Air Toxic Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule) that limit soot, smog, mercury and other toxic pollutants like arsenic, dioxin, and formaldehyde from power plants, and then allow their implementation to be indefinitely delayed – effectively repealing clean air safeguards that would prevent 139,500 deaths, 66,000 hospital visits, and 1 million asthma attacks over the next seven years – and over 25,000 additional deaths every year after.
  • June: Holden Co-sponsors legislation to prevent cleanup of toxic pollution from industrial boilers. Holden cosponsored HR 2250, which would severely weaken and delay Clean Air Act safeguards slated to reduce mercury, toxic metals, acid gases and other hazardous air pollution from incinerators and other industrial polluters.
  • February: Supported blocking EPA from cleaning up cement plants. Holden supported preventing the EPA from regulating the cement production industry, thus enabling these plants to continue dumping mercury pollution and other hazardous air pollutants into the air we breathe and the water we drink.   Cement plants are a significant source of nitrogen oxide emissions, which are associated with a variety of health problems and adversely affect people with lung diseases such as asthma.
  • February: Voted to block the EPA from updating clean air standards and to protect public health from carbon pollution.  Holden voted for H.R. 910, which would gut the Clean Air Act and completely block work already underway by the EPA to set standards for carbon pollution standards that will clean up our air, make cars go further on a gallon of gas and protect public health. According to a letter from leading health groups including the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, “This legislation would interfere with EPA’s ability to implement the Clean Air Act; a law that protects the public health and reduces health care costs for all by preventing thousands of adverse health outcomes, including: cancer, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, emergency department visits, hospitalization and premature deaths. … H.R. 910 would strip away sensible Clean Air Act protections that safeguard Americans and their families from air pollution."

Representative Barletta's Dirty Air Deeds in 2011:

  • October: Barletta Voted for the TRAIN Act. (see description above.)
  • October: Voted to block EPA from cleaning up cement plants. By supporting H.R. 2681, Barletta voted to indefinitely delay – or block – standards to reduce toxic pollution from cement plants. In addition, the bill rewrites the Clean Air Act by overturning multiple federal court decisions to eviscerate strong toxic air pollution standards that under current law must be applied to control dangerous mercury, lead, dioxins and acid gases from these facilities.
  • February: Barletta voted To gut the clean air act.   HR 1 was the greatest legislative assault on environmental protection in decades. This bill thoroughly guts the Clean Air Act and all but dismantles the Environmental Protection Agency. Barletta’s vote for HR 1 blocked enforcement of vital environmental and public health laws, by slashing EPA funding and through the inclusion of 19 separate policy ‘riders’ prevent EPA from enforcing its legal obligations to protect public health from air toxics, water pollution and to carry out the laws previous Congresses have required EPA to do. 
  • February: Barletta voted to block the EPA from strengthening health protections against soot pollution. Barletta voted for an amendment (#563) which blocks EPA’s legal obligation and scientific process to adopt health standards defining how much coarse particle pollution is unhealthy for Americans to breathe. The amendment would force EPA to stick with outdated, unhealthy standards and means Americans would be forced to breathe air that EPA scientists and outside doctors and scientists have determined to be unhealthy.

NRDC's ads are part of a joint effort with Sierra Club. League of Conservation Voters and Environment Ohio to hold members of Congress accountable for voting against clean air.

Let's be clear: We're going to make sure that Americans know about it when their elected representatives in Congress vote against our health and clean air.