88 Groups Say Rep. Whitfield’s Pro-Polluter Bill Undermines Health and Climate Action

They urge rejection of bill taking aim at EPA plan to curb dangerous power plant carbon pollution

WASHINGTON (April 29, 2015) – Eighty-eight leading conservation, Latino, health, scientific and environmental organizations today urged lawmakers to reject a bill to delay federal climate action authored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), saying it would give polluters free rein to keep dumping unlimited amounts of dangerous carbon pollution into our air.

“This dangerous legislation undermines climate action by allowing states simply to ‘opt out’ of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets the first national standards limiting carbon pollution from power plants...We urge you to oppose this latest attack on our health, the Clean Air Act and efforts to reduce harmful carbon pollution,” the groups said in a letter sent to Capitol Hill.

The letter is signed by, among others, Moms Clean Air Force, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Environment America, the Environmental Defense Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.

The letter –which notes that the Clean Air Act is one of the most successful public health laws in the nation’s history—was sent to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is scheduled to vote today on Whitfield’s bill, titled the “Ratepayer Protection Act.”

The EPA unveiled the Clean Power Plan last June and is moving to finalize the plan setting national carbon pollution limits this summer. Polls show that a strong majority of Americans support the Clean Power Plan and want action to reduce the threat of climate change.

Despite that support, Republican leaders this year have pushed a Big Polluter agenda on Capitol Hill seeking to block the carbon pollution standard, and to dismantle health and environmental protections.

In addition to Whitfield, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken a leading role in opposition to the Clean Power Plan. He has, however, struggled to gain support in the Senate and in the states for obstructing the plan. He’s expected to raise his opposition directly with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today in a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing.

The text of the letter to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee follows:

April 27, 2015

Dear Representative,

On behalf of our millions of members, the undersigned organizations urge you to oppose Representative Whitfield’s Ratepayer Protection Act. This dangerous legislation undermines climate action by allowing states simply to "opt out" of the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets the first national standards limiting carbon pollution from power plants.  It also seeks to delay implementation of the CPP indefinitely until every polluter’s lawsuit has been litigated.

The Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Congressional leaders rightly recognized that air pollution is a national problem and leaving pollution control entirely to the states had failed. This state-federal partnership has made the Clean Air Act one of the most successful public health laws in our nation’s history. Since 1970, we have cut many dangerous air pollutants by 90 percent or more, while our economy tripled in size. Millions of lives have been saved and illnesses avoided.

The Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency to set national clean air standards – in this case, standards for carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants. The law gives states the first shot at meeting these national standards, by writing state-specific pollution control plans tailored to local conditions, with the flexibility to meet the emissions reductions required in the most cost-effective way. But if a state cannot, or will not, hold its own polluters accountable, the law guarantees that communities have a federal back-stop.

This bill strikes at the heart of the federal Clean Air Act by letting each state simply walk away from national clean air requirements, giving polluters free rein to continue to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air. The legislation sets a dangerous precedent by allowing any state to decide that meeting national clean air standards is merely optional.  It would destroy the national guarantee that makes the Clean Air Act work: the assurance that EPA will directly regulate the big polluters if a state cannot, or will not do so. 

Whitfield’s bill would also delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan in every state until every polluter’s lawsuit has been fully litigated and appealed, including to the Supreme Court – a process that can take years. This is not the way the Clean Air Act works and is just another way to delay climate action as long as possible.

The Clean Air Act already provides for “staying” implementation during lawsuits if the litigants can prove valid reasons. This bill would instead stall the Clean Power Plan by default, as long as a lawyer can keep the case alive even if there is no proof of irreparable harm or likelihood of success.

The Whitfield bill would destroy the national guarantee that makes the Clean Air Act work by simply letting any state just "opt out" of meeting national carbon standards and it would delay critical carbon pollution standards indefinitely until every polluter's lawsuit has run its course.

We urge you to oppose this latest attack on our health, the Clean Air Act, and efforts to reduce harmful carbon pollution.



350 Bay Area

350 Silicon Valley

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Appalachian Voices

Arkansas Public Policy Panel

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Climate Change and Health

Clean Air Council

Clean Water Action

Climate 911

Climate Parents

Climate Resolve

Conservation Colorado

Conservation Voters for Idaho

Conservation Voters of South Carolina


Environmental Law and Policy Center

Environment America

Environment Arizona

Environment California

Environment Colorado

Environment Connecticut

Environment Florida

Environment Georgia

Environment Maine

Environment Massachusetts

Environment Maryland

Environment New Jersey

Environment New Mexico

Environment New York

Environment Texas

Environment Virginia

Environmental Advocates of New York

Environmental Defense Fund

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Friends of the Earth – US



Interfaith Power & Light

Iowa Environmental Council

Kentucky Environmental Foundation


League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Maine Conservation Alliance

Maine Conservation Voters

Michigan League of Conservation Voters

Moms Clean Air Force

Montana Conservation Voters

Montana Environmental Information Center

Natural Resources Defense Council

New Energy Economy

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

North Carolina League of Conservation Voters



Physicians for Social Responsibility

Protect Our Winters

Program on Climate & Health

Public Citizen

Rachel Carson Council

Safe Climate Campaign

Sierra Club

Sierra Club -  Delta Chapter

Sierra Club - Florida Chapter

Sierra Club - Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter

Sierra Club - Hoosier Chapter

Sierra Club -  Maine Chapter

Sierra Club - Michigan Chapter

Sierra Club - North Carolina Chapter

Sierra Club - Tennessee Chapter

Sierra Club - West Virginia Chapter

Southern Environmental Law Center

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

State Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM)

Texas League of Conservation Voters

The Center for the Celebration of Creation

The Climate Reality Project

Union of Concerned Scientists

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Voces Verdes

Washington Conservation Voters

Washington Environmental Council

WE ACT for Environmental Justice

Western Organization of Resource Councils

Wisconsin Environment

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters



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