Washington, DC - Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other EPW Committee members released the following statement in response to House subcommittee action on a bill that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910), which was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), would also block EPA from complying with the U.S. Supreme Court's direction to address carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.
Senator Boxer said: "Today, a House subcommittee moved forward on legislation that blocks EPA from protecting our children and families against dangerous pollution. We need to stand with American families and doctors who tell us that these landmark safeguards are needed to make the air cleaner and safer for the children to breathe. I will do everything in my power to stop attacks on the Clean Air Act that threaten the health of our families."
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) said: "The House energy panel took a huge step backwards today, voting to tear down critical environmental protections and put big polluters above human health. If the House Republicans get their way, the air won't be clear - but their priorities will be. This short-sighted scheme helps polluters and hurts our children, and we won't let that happen."
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) said: "Legislation telling EPA it can't protect human health and the environment is akin to telling teachers to get out of the classroom. Students can't educate themselves, and polluters can't police themselves. The Upton-Inhofe bill is a combination of bad science, bad policy and bad ideas. I intend to do everything I can to make sure that it is never enacted."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said: "These short-sighted attempts to gut the Clean Air Act will stop the clean energy economy in its tracks, undermine gains in energy efficiency, and compromise our children's health. We should be working to create clean energy jobs and protect public health, not protecting polluters."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) said: "Public health professionals, responsible businesses, and a strong majority of the American people think the Environmental Protection Agency should enforce the Clean Air Act free of political interference. Unfortunately, contrary to the science on the issue, some special interests prefer to exempt their pollution from the law, and House Republican leaders are taking up their cause. Instead of pushing legislation to increase pollution, the House and the Senate should work together to reduce pollution and create jobs in the clean energy economy."
As required by law, EPA is working to reduce air pollution by setting out a modest, incremental and flexible plan for the largest polluters in the country, which will improve the health of American families and children. In its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court said:
"Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of ‘air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gasses..."
EPA's long history of successfully implementing the Clean Air Act was reflected in a recent report showing that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature deaths in the year 2010 alone. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 230,000 premature deaths. EPA also reports that the number of asthma attacks prevented by Clean Air Act programs is expected to increase from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in the next decade. Exposure to air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, lost days at school and work, emergency room visits, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and premature deaths.