Saturday, September 16, 2017

Clean Air Act Digest, 3.17.11

US Climate Action Network


1. Legislation:


On Tuesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) on a largely party line vote of 34 to 19 (all Republicans and 3 Democrats, Barrow (GA-12), Matheson (UT-2), and Ross (AR-4)).  This legislation will allow big corporations to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution from power plants and other industrial sources.  To see a breakdown of the “yes” votes and the number of asthma cases in each district, see Pete Altman’s Blog.


Several Senators are trying to amend a small business bill (the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011) currently on the Senate floor with unrelated language in order to sneak through laws that would block the EPA from making badly-needed updates to clean air safeguards to protect public health from carbon pollution.

–     McConnell (R-KY) Amendment: Would permanently repeal the Clean Air Act’s authority to set limits on GHG pollution, threatening the CAA’s health benefits and increasing our dependence on foreign oil;

–     Rockefeller (D-WV) Amendment: Would delay implementation of EPA’s GHG standards for stationary sources under the clean air act for at least 2 years.  But this proposal is just repeal by another name. As past history has shown legislative delays are nearly impossible to exterminate. Blocking EPA from updating Clean Air Act safeguards with new standards to reduce emissions of life-threatening pollution from power plants and other major sources– whether initially just one year or two – will be extended again and again; and

–     Baucus (D-MT) Amendment: Would prevent accurate accounting of emissions from agricultural activities as well as allow large emission sources to be built or modified with no requirement to limit their carbon pollution.


This week the House and Senate approved another short-term spending bill.  Like the spending bill that was passed earlier this month, this bill will continue to fund the government for the next three weeks, cutting $2 billion in spending each week.

2. EPA: Proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

On Wednesday, EPA announced the most important actions to clean up air pollution from dirty coal-burning power plants since the Clean Air Act was last updated in 1990.  EPA’s proposed mercury and air toxics standards for power plants that burn coal and oil are projected to save as many as 17,000 American lives every year by 2015. These standards also will prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and there will be 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children every year.  The standards also will avoid more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and prevent 850,000 lost work days every year.

The proposed standards should reduce mercury emissions from power plants burning coal and oil by 91%, acid gas pollution by 91%, direct particulate matter (PM) emissions by 30% and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 53%, down to 2.1 million tons of annual SO2 emissions (pdf, p.541). For more information and to submit comments see the Sierra Club’s factsheet and sample action alert and comment card.


Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a bill that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from limiting dangerous carbon pollution.

This Dirty Air Act is moving through the House legislative process quickly– in part because the sponsors want to hide the devastating health impacts.  Just this past week, the bill was passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee and now it will move to the House floor, where it will likely be loaded down by amendments that will further compromise the air we breathe.

Meanwhile, a handful of Senators are responsible for a sneak attack on the Clean Air Act.  Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has proposed amending a small business bill with Upton’s Dirty Air Act, as introduced by Senator Inhofe (R-OK).  Like the House bill, his amendment would permanently repeal the Clean Air Act’s authority to set limits on carbon pollution. Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) has an amendment that would delay the EPA’s ability to control green house gases.  As history has shown, delays like these are often impossible to repeal.

We all rely on the Environmental Protection Agency to protect our public health by regulating the nation’s biggest polluters.  Send a message now urging your Senators and Representative to vote against these attacks on the Clean Air Act, or any measure that would block EPA’s ability to clean up our air. See NRDC’s sample action alert or contact Jamie Consuegra for more information.


Sign on to Broad Clean Air Act Support Letter

On behalf of American Lung Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club, we hope you will consider joining a sign-on letter urging Congress to promote protective clean air standards and to oppose any measures to weaken protections for public health. This letter expresses support for standards to protect public health from all kinds of air pollution – toxic, conventional and global warming. The letter will be sent to every member of the U.S. Senate and U.S House of Representatives as well as to President Obama.

1. Please use the Google form to sign-on to the letter. The Google form URL is

2. Once you have signed on your organization, share this note with other groups you work with and ask them to sign on as well.

The deadline is Monday, March 21th. Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Public Hearings for Mercury Air Toxics Standard:

EPA will hold public hearings on the recently released Mercury Air Toxics Standard in Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta. Details on the timing and location for those hearings will be made available soon in a separate Federal Register notice and posted at


Mercury Alert: Cleaning up Coal Plants for Healthier Lives, Environmental Defense Fund Report 3.16.11

Game Changers: Air Pollution, a Warming Climate, and the Troubled Future for America’s Hunting and Fishing Heritage, National Wildlife Report 3.16.11

Leading Energy Companies Commend EPA’s Release of Proposed Rule to Reduce Toxic Air Pollution, Sloane & Company Press Release 3.16.11

BlueGreen Alliance Brings Together Unions and Environmentalists in Support of EPA Efforts to Protect Public Health and Safety, BlueGreen Alliance Press Release 3.15.11

Letter from Health Organizations in Opposition to McConnell Amendment, 3.15.11

Consumers Union Letter Opposing H.R. 910, Consumers Union 3.14.11

USCAN’s Clean Air Act Pages include a compilation of member materials.

Clean Air Act Digest is a publication put together by US Climate Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council please contact Kate Smolski at for more details. Click here for past issues.