December 13, 2011
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
If someone told you that there was scientific proof that if you drove down a certain street, you would kill multiple people -- you would stop and not go there.
Well, by stopping the clean boiler rule from going into effect, more than 8,000 people per year will die for every year that rule is delayed. And yet the Republicans have done just that in their payroll tax cut bill.
Standing with me is Senator Frank Lautenberg and representatives from leading public health and environmental organizations, including American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, and Earthjustice.
We are here today to talk about two year-end bills that Congress is considering right now, and to tell you what is at stake. House Republicans are loading the legislation -- the payroll tax cut and the end of the year spending bill -- with harmful riders that will undermine the health of our people.
Time and again, House Republicans have added these "poison pill" riders to must-pass legislation in the name of jobs, but these riders won't lead to more jobs.
Stopping the boiler rule means 8,100 more premature deaths per year, 52,000 more asthma cases per year, 5,100 more hearts attacks per year, and 400,000 more lost work days per year. That is because the amount of mercury, arsenic, and lead pollution in the air can, among other things, cause cancer, developmental disabilities in children, and damage to the brain and nervous system of infants.
Stopping the boiler rule, as they do, is not just a figurative poison pill, but a literal one - people will literally die from the poisoned air pollution that they breathe.
The House proposal also includes another unrelated provision to immediately move forward on the controversial tar sands (Keystone XL) pipeline project -- without proper consideration of public health and safety. This project could endanger drinking water supplies for surrounding communities, and it needs further study. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was done by a company that has ties to the corporation building the pipeline.
We also know that Republicans are trying to include other anti-public health riders.
For example, one of the many riders being considered for the omnibus appropriations bill would threaten water quality by undermining the Clean Water Act's ability to protect streams and rivers from dangerous pollution.
Let me be clear - these riders don't help the American people, but they do help the polluters. The sad truth is that Republicans must care more about their polluter friends than they do about children and families.
In the case of the boiler rule, it only asks about 5,500 of the dirtiest boilers to clean up their act - out of 1.5 million boilers. The House Republicans are standing with the dirtiest polluters against the American people.
Since they took over the House in 2011, the Republican-controlled House has taken 190 votes that attack public health and environmental safeguards.
The Senate has repeatedly voted down these harmful provisions, such as those in the Republicans' 2012 budget proposal (H.R.1) and a resolution by Sen. Paul to stop the cross-state air rule.
They don't believe if industrial facilities create pollution and it blows into another state with the wind, that those facilities should have to reduce their pollution.
I have often said if you can't breathe, you can't work. So yes, clean air is an economic issue: we need it for our economy to thrive.
The facts are clear and undeniable: a strong EPA and effective environmental safeguards are good for the American people and beneficial to the U.S. economy. A clean environment and strong economic growth go hand in hand.
For example, the Pew Charitable Trust reported that 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. Clean energy jobs were created 15 percent faster than the rest of the California economy.
I call on Republicans to stop attaching unrelated provisions to must-pass legislation, and instead pass bills that will give the American people the tax relief they need without endangering their health. I hope the American people will call Speaker Boehner at (202) 225-3121 and tell him to drop those poison riders from must-pass legislation.