Oppose the TRAIN Act, the Worst Air Pollution Bill Ever to Reach the House Floor

The TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401)—the most deadly bill on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Pollution Plan—is expected to be brought up for a House floor vote this Friday (9/23).

As initially introduced, the TRAIN Act was a biased and irresponsible “study” bill—creating a committee of cabinet members to review just the costs of a multitude of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards, while ignoring the greater health and monetary benefits to Americans. While this version of the bill would have been harmful to human health, the bill is now an entirely different, and much more deadly beast.

 Why would the current version of TRAIN result in so many more deaths and health hazards? The answer is an amendment from Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) added to the bill in Full Committee that could permanently block two life-saving clean air safeguards: the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which curbs smog and soot pollution from power plants that crosses state lines, and the Mercury and Air Toxics standards, which limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. It would do this by forbidding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from re-issuing the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for a minimum of 19 months, and any Mercury and Air Toxics standards for a minimum of 15 months. 

But the amendment does not stop there. It also eliminates any actual deadline for EPA to re-issue standards, repealing current law, which has imposed firm deadlines for EPA to issue air toxics standards for polluting industries ever since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Thus, the TRAIN Act that passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee would allow these life-saving standards to be shelved indefinitely.

The health standards that the TRAIN Act will prevent are long overdue and would save tens of thousands of lives every year once they are implemented. I’ve blogged about how important the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury and Air Toxics standards are here, here, here, here, and here. Blocking these standards for just one additional year would result in:

  • up to 25,300 lives lost;
  •  more than 11,000 heart attacks;
  • more than 120,000 asthma attacks;
  • over 12,200 more hospital and emergency room visits; and
  • many hundreds of thousands more days of missed work or school.

smokeytrain_Phil_NZsmall.JPGAnd the bill’s lengthier minimum periods of delay (15 & 19 months) would result in up to 33,450 premature deaths. The real toll likely will be much higher since the legislation allows indefinite delays in these vital public health safeguards.

While the initial version of the TRAIN Act was bad, the version the House is scheduled to vote on this week is indefensible. It will sacrifice tens of thousands of lives, pollute the air we breathe, and expose our children, families, and communities to toxic air pollutants that cause illness and developmental disorders. 

We urge you to call your Representative and urge them to vote “NO” on H.R. 2401 and block this reckless attack on clean air protections for all Americans. 

Photo by Phil Norton on Flickr

About the Authors

John Walke

Director, Clean Air Project, Climate & Clean Air program

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