New Bill Would Cripple America’s Most Important Pollution Law

For Immediate Release

New Bill Would Cripple America’s Most Important Pollution Law

Despite Strong Public Support for Clean Air Act, Some in Congress Are Taking Yet Another Swipe at Repealing It

WASHINGTON - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) plan to introduce legislation today to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a U.S. Supreme Court order and curbing carbon dioxide and other dangerous greenhouse gas pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The bill is the latest in a string of attacks on a law that has dramatically reduced air pollution while at the same time producing tremendous public-health and economic benefits.

“Poll after poll shows that the public supports the EPA and the Clean Air Act. Study after study finds that the economic and public-health benefits produced by the Act far outweigh the costs of curbing pollution. But clearly, to some in Congress, big polluters’ profits matter more,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “It’s sad, but not shocking, that fossil fuel interests have captured so many members of Congress. Now’s the time for true leadership by President Obama to do what is right and what the American public wants."

A recently released survey conducted for the American Lung Association found that three out of four voters support the EPA setting tougher standards on air pollutants including mercury, smog and CO2 and 64 percent oppose congressional action, such as what’s being introduced today, to stop the EPA from setting new limits on CO2 pollution. Also, 69 percent said that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and must be regulated if the EPA finds they endanger public health. In 2009, the EPA confirmed that greenhouse pollution does indeed endanger public health and the environment.

Today’s legislation is expected to prohibit the EPA from reducing greenhouse pollutants such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide under the Clean Air Act. The legislation would repeal steps the agency has already taken to reduce carbon pollution from our nation’s biggest polluters, including refineries and power plants. Last month, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Upton unveiled a draft version of this bill following a closed-door meeting with major polluters.

Earlier this week, the EPA released a new report titled The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. It found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths,130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone; the economic benefits of those programs will reach approximately $2 trillion by 2020.

To learn more, read the Center’s new report,The Clean Air Act Works, which highlights the Act’s 40-year track record of achieving comprehensive, cost-effective reductions in air pollution and details additional action the EPA must take to secure necessary greenhouse gas pollution reductions and avoid the worst effects of runaway global warming.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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