Denying the Facts: Representative Lou Barletta's True Record of Dirty Air Votes

Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has voted against clean and safe air four times this year, each time increasing the health risks to kids, who are among the most vulnerable to the effects of dangerous air pollution. There are 260,000 kids in Pennsylvania who have asthma – a dangerous condition well-known to be worsened by air pollution.

That’s why NRDC has launched a two-week tv ad campaign to make sure Barletta’s constituents know what he’s up to in DC.

PoliticsPA reports that Barletta spokesman Shawn Kelly responded to the ad by saying:

“Claims that Rep. Barletta is ‘attacking’ the Clean Air Act are completely false. Not one of the roll call votes cited (#86, #140, #147, and #741) alters the Clean Air Act in any way. Every single vote cited keeps current EPA regulations in place and allows the EPA to continue to regulate pollutants. The roll call votes in question do not weaken or remove any EPA regulation currently in effect.”

Interestingly, Barletta’s team doesn’t bother denying the charge our ad actually makes, which is that he voted to let polluters dump more dangerous pollution into our air. And they deny charges we didn’t make – that Barletta voted to alter the Clean air Act and weaken and remove EPA regulations currently in effect.

We could have, though.

Because Representative Barletta has voted repeatedly during 2011 to block clean air safeguards and weaken both the law and the agency responsible for holding polluters accountable.

  • October: Barletta Voted for the TRAIN Act. This bill would repeal or block two critical Clean Air Act standards (Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule) that limit soot, smog, mercury and other toxic pollutants like arsenic, dioxin, and formaldehyde from power plants.  The bills eliminate any actual deadlines for EPA to re-issue health standards, allowing these life-saving standards to be blocked indefinitely– effectively repealing clean air safeguards that would prevent thousands of deaths and illnesses. Finally, the bills eviscerate the legal authority for EPA to re-issue protective standards.

    Health impact: 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.
  • October: Voted to block EPA from cleaning up cement plants. By supporting H.R. 2681, Barletta voted to roll back current standards to limit toxic pollution such as mercury, lead, and cancer-causing dioxins from cement plants. The bill Barletta supported eviscerates strong toxic air pollution standards for these plants and eliminates Clean Air Act compliance deadlines for these life-saving standards, meaning companies’ compliance with any future toxic air pollution standards could be delayed indefinitely. See more details here.

    Health impact: 11,250 deaths.
  • 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’ that 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 attacks clean air standards for soot pollution that EPA has not even proposed, much less adopted, and would prevent the agency from reviewing the science on soot pollution or setting standards to protect Americans.

Wow. That’s a whole lot of altering the Clean Air Act, and weakening and removing pollution protections, after all.  

We’ve got to wonder – did the Congressman vote for these bills knowing what they do? If so, how does he justify what he told PoliticsPA? On the other hand, if he didn’t know what the bills do – why did he vote for them anyway?

About the Authors

Pete Altman

Director of Federal Campaigns

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