Clean Air Act Digest, 12.16.13
Thank you to our readers who filled out the Clean Air Act Digest survey. We are pleased that Digest readers have found it to be a useful resource. Since the time Digest was created, a few years back, supporters of Clean Air Act protections have been successful in fending off congressional attacks. As the frequency of these attacks has declined, so has our readership. Therefore, this will be the final issue of the Clean Air Act Digest.
We hope that you enjoy this last issue and continue to stay linked in on these issues through the bi-weekly CLEAN call (contact Lara Levison at
As reported in previous issues of Digest, Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) have released draft legislation that would repeal the current Clean Air Act authority to set standards for America’s biggest carbon polluters. Although Rep. Whitfield is actively seeking cosponsors for his bill, no legislative activity is expected on these bills before the Senate and House members leave for holiday recess. On November 13, close to 80 organizations sent a letter to both the House and Senate in opposition of this draft legislation. Click here if you would like to have your group added on to the letter, which now has over 100 organizations signed on.
On November 21, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invoked the “nuclear option” for executive branch and judicial nominees. This change in Senate rules prevents filibusters of nominations, except those for the Supreme Court, allowing nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority vote, rather than requiring a 60-vote supermajority. This change is expected to hasten the appointment of many judges and executive positions that have been left vacant for an extended period of time.
On December 10, a simple majority vote was used to approve Washington lawyer Patricia Millett to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This vote was significant as the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the nation’s second most powerful court and one that regularly hears pivotal Clean Air Act cases (see below for an example). Millett was confirmed by a roll call vote of 56-38, giving Democratic-appointed judges in the DC Circuit Court a 5-4 majority over
On December 12, the House passed a bipartisan budget agreement for fiscal year 2014 and 2015 that would reduce the sequester spending cuts and guarantee that the government will not shut down in January. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) negotiated the deal which had a final vote of 332-94 in the House. This deal would avoid truly crippling cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other public health and environmental programs, although they still remain largely underfunded. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.
On December 3, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced legislation entitled the EPA Maximum Achievable Contraction of Technocrats (MACT) Act of 2013 (HR 3641). This legislation would cut the EPA’s workforce by 15 percent. This is a blatant attack on the EPA’s role in protecting public health and the environment.
On December 10, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the federal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). This rule would require 28 states in the East, Midwest, and South to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) that would otherwise cross state lines and worsen air. The DC Circuit Court struck down the rule in August of 2012; a later petition for rehearing was rejected in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals; subsequently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. EPA estimated that the rule as proposed would have prevented 14,000-36,000 premature deaths, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1.9 million missed
Also on December 10, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Court began oral arguments on the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule. Leading public health, environmental, and civil rights organizations are supporting the EPA’s 2012 rule against industry and corporate polluters who filed a lawsuit challenging this rule when it was issued in 2012. The rule would limit mercury, arsenic, and lead pollution from coal-fired power plants, preventing up to 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks every year once implemented. For more information, see the press release by Earthjustice, which is representing the NAACP, Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation in this case.
Add your Voice: Demand Limits to Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a revised proposal to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants. This is an important step in protecting American families from harmful, unregulated carbon pollution and protecting the future of our planet.
Join the 3.2 million voices that have already urged the EPA to support a limit on carbon pollution!
Speak Out in Support of Carbon Pollution Rules for New Power Plants, American Sustainable Business Council Action Alert
Stand Up to Big Polluters: Support the EPA’s Action on Climate Change, League of Conservation Voters Action Alert
Tell the EPA You Support their New Limits on Carbon Pollution from Power Plants, Moms Clean Air Force Action Alert
Demand Limits to Carbon Pollution, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Alert
Don’t Let Big Coal Kill the EPA’s Crucial, New Rules, Save Our Environment Action Alert
Fight Back Against Climate-Destroying Carbon Pollution, Sierra Club Action Alert
Tell the EPA You Support Strong Standards to Reduce Power Plant Carbon Emissions, Union of Concerned Scientists Action Alert
Clean Air has its Day in Court, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Blog, 12.13.13
Civil Rights, Public Health, Green Groups Defend Life-Saving Toxic Pollution Controls in Court, Earthjustice Press Release, 12.10.13
Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Major Interstate Pollution Safeguard, Earthjustice Press Release, 12.9.13
Even Bigger Carbon Reductions, Even Lower Costs, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Blog, 12.9.13
Power Sector Opportunities for Reducing Carbon Dioxide: Wisconsin, World Resources Institute (WRI) Report, 12.13
“Thanks for reading!”
Above is a sampling of the most recent resources related to upholding the Clean Air Act. Don’t forget USCAN has a series of pages that compile items like these and much more:
Clean Air Act Digest is a publication put together by US Climate Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council. Please contact Lara Levison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Click here for past issues.