While Attacks on the Environment Continue, 34 Senators and 155 Representatives Send Strong, Timely Message of Support for Clean Air Protections
Late last week, a group of 34 Senators (including the entire Senate Democratic leadership) and 155 House members – enough to sustain a Presidential veto in either body – took clear, forceful and timely stands for public protections under the Clean Air Act. The signers of the Senate Resolution and House letter lay out what the public has gained from the Clean Air Act – in terms of health, jobs and economic productivity – and support "the protection of children and families from harmful pollution through continued implementation of the Clean Air Act.”
The resolution could not have come at a more opportune time. The battle over the future of the Clean Air Act and the protections it affords to public health and the environment will come to a head this week. The House is scheduled to vote on a bill authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific finding that carbon dioxide endangers the public and to strip EPA of its ability to protect the public from the effects of carbon dioxide. The Senate may vote on the same legislation – in the form of an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – and other amendments by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that all block work underway to protect the public from carbon dioxide pollution.
Beyond that, the battle over the spending bill for the rest of this fiscal year is also reaching a critical point, and some version of that bill will have to become law, or the government will cease to operate. One of the key issues in the budget negotiations are the 19 anti-environmental riders that the House passed. Those riders include measures to block limits on toxic pollutants as well as carbon dioxide. The President and the Senate leadership and Democratic House leaders have made clear that these riders are totally unacceptable. They are bad policy that would damage public health, and they have no place on a critical spending bill, which is already weighed down by controversy over spending levels, more than halfway through the fiscal year. The riders do not save the government one cent, but they will impose costs on the families that will suffer from the additional pollution.
The 34 Senators (listed at the top of the Resolution) and the 155 House members have chosen exactly the right time to speak out on the public benefits of the Clean Air Act and to pledge to protect it. The Clean Air Act has been remarkably effective in cleaning up the nation’s air – which was once polluted enough to be visible from space – but there is more to be done. As we learn more about the dangers of pollution, and as technology to prevent pollution improves, we can and must continue to improve air quality. That’s what the Clean Air Act requires and it’s what these Senators and House members have pledged to support.