Sen. Capito’s Polluter Protection Bill Weakens Health and Climate Action

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

WASHINGTON (August 5, 2015) – Ninety-two conservation, Latino, health, scientific and environmental organizations today urged senators to reject a bill by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) seeking to block any action on climate change, including eliminating the newly finalized Clean Power Plan that sets the first-ever limits on power plant carbon pollution, which threatens public health and fuels climate change.

“Senator Capito’s polluter protection bill is an appalling attack on our children who deserve to breathe air that doesn’t worsen their asthma, keep them indoors on scorching days and send them to hospitals with respiratory illnesses,” said David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Just as disturbing, she’s pushing the worst possible bill concerning climate change in the same week our country’s taking the best possible action to fight this growing threat to our health, communities and economy with the Clean Power Plan. The bill is irresponsible, it’s dangerous and against the wishes of countless Americans who want climate action now, so future generations can inherit a safe and stable climate.”

In the letter, the groups contend that the Capito bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting public health by dismantling the Clean Air Act, which has improved public health and air quality for more than four decades, and by blocking EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

“The Clean Power Plan itself is expected to prevent more than 3,000 premature deaths per year by the year 2030. Senator Capito’s bill will reverse these benefits and harm Americans. In multiple provisions, individually, and in combination, the bill puts public interest at risk and blocks critical action needed to address climate change. We urge your leadership in opposing this misguided bill,” the letter states.

A blog by Doniger on the Capito bill is here:

The letter sent to members of the United States Senate is here:


The text follows:


August 5, 2015

Dear Senator,

On behalf of our millions of members, the undersigned organizations urge you to oppose S. 1324, dangerous legislation being led by Senator Capito, which should be called the “Polluter Protection Act.” The Capito bill would prevent the EPA from protecting public health by dismantling the Clean Air Act and blocking the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Clean Air Act has improved the health of Americans, fostered air quality, helped drive economic benefits in the USA for four decades, and made America an international leader in clean air and public health. The Clean Power Plan itself is expected to prevent more than 3,000 premature deaths per year by the year 2030. Senator Capito’s bill will reverse these benefits and harm Americans. In multiple provisions, individually, and in combination, the bill puts public interest at risk and blocks critical action needed to address climate change. We urge your leadership in opposing this misguided bill.

Under the Clean Air Act, states have the option to create their own plans to meet national clean air standards by writing state-specific pollution control plans tailored to local conditions, with the flexibility to do so in the most cost-effective way. But if a state cannot, or will not, hold its own polluters accountable, the law guarantees that communities can rely on the EPA to protect their health.

This bill strikes at the central tenets of the federal Clean Air Act by letting each state simply walk away from national clean air requirements, giving polluters free rein to continue dumping 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.

Senator Capito’s legislation would rewrite the Clean Air Act to block EPA from setting standards for carbon pollution based on the best demonstrated pollution controls – changing criteria that EPA has used for 45 years to set advanced technology standards for new stationary sources. The bill’s new criteria would effectively prevent the establishment of standards for new coal plants to the pollution levels of today’s dirty plants. The bill would block EPA from finalizing its current proposal for new source standards, and since new source standards are a predicate for regulating existing sources, the bill would effectively block EPA’s plans to regulate existing power plants, too.

As if that weren’t enough, this bill would also delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan until every polluter’s lawsuit has been fully litigated, a process that can take years even in an ordinary case. This provision would encourage polluters to drag out the case as long as possible in order to delay implementation further. Current law allows courts to “stay” a rule if challengers can show the rules would cause immediate irreparable harm and they prove they are likely to win on the merits. This bill would instead stall the Clean Power Plan automatically as long as the polluters’ lawyers can keep the cases alive.

Finally, S. 1324 would require the EPA to choose between reducing power plants’ carbon or mercury pollution. By attempting to force the EPA to “pick your poison,” this bill condemns Americans to suffer the health impacts of pollution we can protect them from. This is a false choice; we can and must do both.

We urge you to oppose this, and all other attacks on the Clean Air Act, our health, and efforts to reduce harmful carbon pollution from the nation’s biggest emitters.


Adirondack Mountain Club

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Appalachian Voices

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Beyond Nuclear

Center for Biological Diversity

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture)

Clean Water Action

Clean Wisconsin

Climate Justice

Climate Law & Policy Project

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Conservation Voters for Idaho

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

CT League of Conservation Voters

Earth Day Network


East Bay Community Solar Project

El Puente

Endangered Habitats League

Energy Action Coalition

Environmental Advocates of New York

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Environmental Defense Fund Action

Environment America

Environment Arizona

Environment California

Environment Colorado

Environment Connecticut

Environment Georgia

Environment Maine

Environment Massachusetts

Environment New Jersey

Environment New Mexico

Environment New York

Environment North Carolina

Environment Oregon

Environment Texas

Environment Virginia

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends of the Earth


Green for All




Health Care Without Harm

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.

Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition Inc

iMatter, Kids vs. Global Warming

Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy Program

Interfaith Power & Light

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters of the United States

Montana Environmental Information Center

National People’s Action

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nature Abounds

New Energy Economy

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

NextGen Climate

North Carolina League of Conservation Voters

Nuclear Information and Resource Service


Oxfam America


People Demanding Action

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Arizona Chapter

Polar Bears International

Public Citizen

Progressive Democrats of America

Protect Our Winters

Rachel Carson Council

Renew Missouri

River Guardian Foundation

Safe Climate Campaign

Sierra Club

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Southern Environmental Law Center

Sustainable Energy & Economy Network

Union of Concerned Scientists

Union for Reform Judaism

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Voces Verdes

Voices for Progress

Wisconsin Environment

Women's Earth and Climate Action Network


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