WASHINGTON - More than 24 million Americans
with asthma, including over 7 million children, are at increased risk
of adverse health consequences if 123 U.S. House members in 35 states
are successful in preventing the US EPA from updating the Clean Air Act,
according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council and
released with Health Care Without Harm. The lawmakers collectively have
received over $27,292,000 from polluters, many of which have made
stopping the EPA a high priority.
As of January 25, 123 U.S. House Members had cosponsored one
or more pieces of legislation intended to prevent the Environmental
Protection Agency from reducing pollution from industrial plants and
other sources. By blocking the EPA, the lawmakers would be allowing
polluters to continue emitting unsafe amounts of cancer-causing toxic,
soot and smog pollution from cement plants as well as unlimited amounts
of carbon dioxide from most industrial plants.
The 123 Members of Congress co-sponsoring anti-EPA bills are
in the following 35 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona,
California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana,
Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia,
Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
"Putting the EPA in a political stranglehold will sentence
tens of thousands of people to debilitating, respiratory illnesses such
as asthma, adding to the burden of chronic disease in the nation and
increasing the financial burden to the health care system," said Health
Care Without Harm's Climate Policy Coordinator Brenda Afzal, MS, RN.
"Let's be clear: If these lawmakers are successful in blocking the EPA
from doing its job to cut life-threatening pollution, more asthma
sufferers, particularly children, will wind up gasping for breath."
Health Care Without Harm, one of nearly 300 national and
local health groups and other organizations, recently called on Congress
to fully support the EPA's efforts to limit the pollution responsible
for climate change, which increases a wide range of health risks,
including exacerbated chronic health conditions such as asthma and
respiratory diseases associated with smog pollution. Pollution from
cement kilns includes cancer-causing toxic pollution, mercury, soot and
"Our elected representatives should hold big polluters
accountable, not help them block the strong safeguards that would
protect our health and quality of life," said Dan Lashof, an
environmental scientist and Director of NRDC's Climate
Center. "Unfortunately, these bad air boosters- who collectively have
taken over $27 million in campaign contributions from big polluters
during their careers - are choosing to stand up for the polluters
instead of public health. We think the scientists and experts at the EPA
should decide what pollution limits are needed, not politicians whose
careers have been supported by big polluters."
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most effective
strategy for limiting these health effects," stated Jeremy Hess, MD,
MPH, FACEP, Assistant Professor and Assistant Research Director,
Emergency Medicine; and Assistant Professor, Environmental Health, Emory
Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Atlanta, GA. " Moreover,
several studies have demonstrated that many mitigation strategies can
have significant health benefits apart from the reduction in greenhouse
gas emissions, making them a win-win from a health perspective."
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The groups highlighted several recently introduced bills that
would abolish or otherwise block the EPA's ability to set standards to
protect public health from air pollution:
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced a bill (H.R. 97) that would permanently block EPA from limiting carbon pollution.
- Rep. Shelley Moore
Capito, R-W. Va., introduced a bill (H.R. 199) that would block EPA from
taking any action under the Clean Air Act tolimit carbon and methane
pollution, for two years.
- Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas,
introduced a bill (H.R. 153) that would prohibit EPA from developing or
enforcing standards to limit carbon pollution.
- Rep. John Carter,
R-Texas, has a introduced a resolution (H.J. RES. 9) that would
permanently block the EPA from reducing the soot, mercury,
cancer-causing toxic and smog-forming pollution that cement plants dump
into the air
Carbon pollution is linked to asthma because it contributes
to warmer temperatures, which make it easier for smog pollution to
develop and harder to reduce it. Warmer temperatures are also associated
with increased morbidity and mortality due to increased weather events,
such as hurricanes and floods; the spread of disease-bearing vectors;
and heat-related illnesses, all of which incur additional health care
For a detailed chart of all U.S. House sponsors and co-sponsors of the anti-EPA legislation, go to http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/FINAL%20Bad%20Air%20Bill%20Table.pdf on the Web.
In 2009, EPA scientists determined carbon pollution is a
public health risk, including its role in worsening the smog pollution
to which asthmatics are particularly vulnerable. Regarding the effects
on air quality, agency experts say "The evidence concerning adverse air
quality impacts provides strong and clear support for an endangerment
finding. Increases in ambient ozone are expected to occur over
broad areas of the country, and they are expected to increase serious
adverse health effects in large population areas that are and may
continue to be in nonattainment. The evaluation of the potential risks
associated with increases in ozone in attainment areas also supports
such a finding." For the EPA's full explanation, see http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/downloads/Federal_Register-EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171-Dec.15-09.pdf.
Asthma prevalence estimates are from the American Lung Association's "Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease by Lung Association Territory" which can be found at http://www.lungusa.org/finding-cures/our-research/trend-reports/estimated-prevalence.pdf.
Estimates are by county, so figures for specific districts include
counties wholly and partly in the district. Campaign contributions
information is from Open Secrets (http://www.OpenSecrets.org) and Federal Election Commission (http://www.fec.gov/disclosure.shtml) reports of contributions from oil and gas, electric utility, and coal and mining sectors. Top donors in these categories oppose key EPA safeguards.
For more information:
NRDC's Climate Center Campaign Director Pete Altman has blogged: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/choosing_polluters_over_childr.html
Table listing Bad Air Bill co-sponsors and district-specific information: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/FINAL%20Bad%20Air%20Bill%20Table.pdf