Clean Air Act Digest 12.9.11
On Friday, December 2, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changes to air toxic standards for boilers and incinerators that were issued in March 2011. According to EPA, the changes will maintain the rule’s public health benefits – significant reductions in toxic air pollutants, including mercury and soot – while easing the cost and difficulty of complying with the regulations. These regulations, with the changes proposed by EPA, are an important step in the right direction; for example, in the year 2015, they will reduce the number of premature deaths by 8,100, heart attacks by 5,100, and asthma attacks by 52,000. While the American Boiler Manufacturers Association supports EPA’s re-proposal, many industry groups remain critical in spite of the proposed revisions, and supporters of cleaner air will need to remain vigilant to keep this rule on track.
On December 16, after two decades of delays, EPA is expected to announce final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants that burn coal and oil. The standards, as proposed in draft form in March, would achieve tremendous public health benefits by reducing emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic pollutants. By also reducing harmful particle pollution, the standards are projected to save as many as 17,000 American lives every year by 2015, as well as preventing hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma, bronchitis, and other illnesses each year. The proposed regulations continue to face a barrage of attacks by industry (especially the utility companies with older, dirtier plants) and their allies in Congress as the court-ordered deadline for final regulations approaches.
On December 7, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) introduced S. 1960, the “Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act,” to extend the cut in the payroll tax. Unfortunately, the bill includes two harmful provisions:
The House Republican leadership is spearheading a drive to attach anti-environmental bills and riders in the final, “must-pass” bills of the year, such as the Omnibus Appropriations bill, potential legislation to extend expiring tax credit provisions, and potential legislation to extend the cut in the payroll tax. The leadership announced they wanted to include a bill to mandate building of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from Canada’s tar sands (HR 3548) and another bill to block EPA’s boiler regulations (H.R. 2250) in the tax cut bill.
The US House on Wednesday passed the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10) by a vote of 241-184. The bill would block any major regulation issued by a federal agency costing more than $100 million from taking effect unless it received approval from both houses of Congress and the President. Last week, the House passed two anti-regulatory bills: the Regulatory Accountability Act (HR 3010) and the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (HR 527). These bills would make it virtually impossible for federal agencies to protect public health, safety, and the environment – in fact, they would prevent the Administration from carrying out a multitude of important laws passed by Congress.
Continuing the onslaught on the Clean Air Act, the US House passed HR 1633, the “Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act,” on December 8 by a vote 368-150. Although EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made it clear that the agency does not regulate farm dust and has no intentions of doing so in the future, Clean Air Act opponents used the myth of farm dust regulation to continue to attempt to undermine regulations that protect public health from coarse particulate pollution – also known as soot – from a wide range of sources, including industrial activities and mining.
Take Action: Tell Congress to keep anti-environment attacks off year-end bills.
As Congress rushes to finish its work on funding bills for the year, House Republican leaders are trying to slip through measures that have no effect on spending or taxes but would have a major impact on our health and environment.
Many thanks to the Natural Resources Defense Council for providing this week’s alert!
Finally if your organization is interested in sending out an action alert or email to your members please contact email@example.com for more information.
EPA’s Air Toxics Standards Major and Area Source Boilers and Certain Incinerators Overview of Changes and Impacts, Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet 12.02.11
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for Power Plants, Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet 2011
Administrator Sunstein: Support EPA Utility Air Toxics Rule, Sierra Club Letter 11.30.11
Oppose S. 1392: Gutting the Clean Air Act to Allow More Toxic Air Pollution, More Deaths, More Asthma Attacks, Natural Resources Defense Council Fact Sheet 12.07.11
The Clearing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens (CURB) Act (S. 602), Coalition for Sensible Safeguards Fact Sheet
Oppose the REINS Act: H.R. 10/S. 299, National Resources Defense Council Fact Sheet
Undermining the Executive Branch, The New York Times Editorial on the REINS Act, 12.04.11
The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011: Legislation Would Override and Threaten Decades of Public Protections Coaliton of Sensible Safeguards Fact Sheet
Letter to Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Velazquez: Oppose H.R. 527, Coalition for Sensible Safeguards Letter 7.12.11
Oppose H.R. 1633 – Addresses Non-Existent Problem, Threatens Public Health, League of Conservation Voters Letter 12.07.11
Oppose H.R. 1633, Sierra Club Letter 12.06.11
Don’t forget the Clean Air Act fan page on Facebook.
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.