Over the past four decades, the Clean Air Act has earned a well-deserved reputation as America’s most effective law for reducing dangerous pollution and protecting human health and the environment. The big polluters and their political allies have attacked this landmark law many times over the years, in the courts and in Congress.
Now the Clean Air Act is coming under attack again, led by the same bunch that is blocking passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Some House members and Senators are trying to attach “riders” to ordinary annual funding bills – amendments that would prohibit use of the Clean Air Act to limit the dangerous carbon pollution that is driving global warming. A sneak attack in a House appropriations subcommittee failed last week on a 7-7 vote.
Four environmental organizations – Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council – fired back with an ad today in the Washington Post and tomorrow in the Akron Beacon Journal calling out the seven House members -- Reps. LaTourette (R-OH), Calvert (R-CA), Chandler (D-KY), Cole (R-OK), Lewis (R-CA), Mollohan (D-WV), and Simpson (R-ID) -- who voted for this offensive “rider” last week.
The goal of the funding riders is to overrule the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, where the high court confirmed that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to the Clean Air Act and ordered Environmental Protection Agency to act based on the science.
Shouldn’t EPA follow the science and protect the health and welfare of the American people?
The House measure failed, but the attacks aren’t over. West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller is still pushing a bill to block any carbon pollution reductions from power plants, oil refineries, and other giant polluters for at least two years.
We’re calling on Senate appropriators to stand by the Clean Air Act and reject any funding riders that would weaken or delay the Clean Air Act, which could come before their committee as early as next week.
The Senate knows how to do the right thing. Last June, the full Senate rejected a measure offered by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to overrule EPA’s original endangerment determination.
The Senates needs to do its job: Move forward, not backward. Leave the Clean Air Act alone. Pass climate and energy legislation.