88 Groups Say Rep. Whitfield’s Pro-Polluter Bill Undermines Health and Climate Action
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
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
Arkansas Public Policy Panel
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Climate Change and Health
Clean Air Council
Clean Water Action
Conservation Voters for Idaho
Conservation Voters of South Carolina
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Environment New Jersey
Environment New Mexico
Environment New York
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
Rachel Carson Council
Safe Climate Campaign
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
Washington Conservation Voters
Washington Environmental Council
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Western Organization of Resource Councils
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters