Clean Air Act Digest, 5.11.12
The House has begun voting on FY2013 appropriations bills to provide the federal governments’ annual funding, but the Interior-EPA Appropriations bill, which includes funding for Clean Air Act activities, may be too controversial to come to the House floor this year and may instead be rolled into an omnibus appropriations bill late in the year.
The extension of surface transportation programs passed by the House (H.R. 4348) on April 18 in order to go to conference with the Senate includes a provision to block proposed EPA rules on coal ash from power plants, ostensibly to allow the continued use of coal ash in road-building materials. Although coal ash, the abundant and dangerous waste left over after coal is burned, contains toxic substances, there are no federal standards on its disposal. This provision, which comes from H.R. 2273, should be dropped from the transportation bill. This fact sheet provides more information. Consider taking personal action or sending an action alert to your organization. See the Earthjustice action alert here.
The Gasoline Regulations Act (H.R. 4471), which we are calling the Gutting Air Standards Protection (GASP) Act, may receive a vote in the full Energy and Commerce Committee on May 17. This bill would do nothing about high gas prices but would block several clean air standards and gut the Clean Air Act’s health-based approach to setting ozone (smog) standards. For more information, see previous editions of the Clean Act Digest.
On May 9, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 4273, introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), an insidious bill that would allow power plant operators to ignore all environmental laws—federal, state, and local—if they receive a “must-run” order from the US Department of Energy to operate their plants to ensure a sufficient supply of electricity. Current law already ensures that power plants can run when absolutely necessary, without throwing protections for public health and the environment out the window. This coalition fact sheet provides more information.
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) continues to state that he will force a vote on his Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolution on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. These standards, finalized earlier this year, for the first time set national limits on mercury, arsenic, lead, acid gases, and other toxic air pollutants. EPA projects that starting in 2016, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards every year will prevent:
• up to 11,000 premature deaths;
• nearly 5,000 heart attacks;
• 130,000 asthma attacks;
• 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
• 540,000 days when people miss work and school.
Senator Inhofe’s resolution would guarantee this health toll would continue every year, unabated, with EPA stripped of the tools to address those hazards. Americans would be denied, indefinitely, the enormous health benefit from reducing 90% of the mercury and 88% of the acid gas pollution from power plants that burn coal and oil.
To read more, see John Walke’s blog.
As reported last week, EPA announced two public hearings on the proposed carbon pollution standard, to be held on May 24 in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Also, EPA extended the public comment period until June 25. As described in Clean Air Act Digest on March 30, this proposed safeguard sets the first national limits on carbon pollution from new electric power plants. We encourage your organization to attend the public hearings and to collect public comments in favor of the proposed carbon pollution standard. Register ASAP for the hearings – see “upcoming events” below.
Support EPA’s Proposal to Limit Industrial Carbon Pollution from New Power Plants:
Don’t forget to register to participate in the upcoming public hearings. DC speaking slots are already filled up and Chicago slots are filling up quickly– see “upcoming events” below!
The EPA’s proposed limits on industrial carbon pollution from new power plants are critical to protecting the health of our kids and families, sparking innovation in clean technologies and creating American jobs. Industrial carbon pollution spewing from power plants threatens our health. Carbon pollution fuels climate change that raises temperatures and makes smog pollution worse, which can trigger asthma attacks and permanently damage and reduce the function of children’s lungs. It’s no surprise the American people support the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s efforts to update and enforce clean air standards, including carbon and mercury emissions from power plants.
Tell the EPA that you support its efforts to protect our health with new standards to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants and urge the agency to move forward with carbon pollution standards for existing plants. Help drive comment collection by crafting an action alert for your organization.
For more information, visit the Industrial Carbon Pollution Standard web page and the comment collection toolkit on USCAN’s website. For examples of action alerts, see Clean Air Act Digest for April 27. If you have any questions regarding comment collection, contact Lucy LaFlamme at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Friday, EPA announced that two public hearings would be held on May 24 on the proposed carbon pollution standard in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. We encourage representatives of your organizations to attend and testify in person if possible. Here are the specific locations:
• Chicago, Illinois in the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building, Lake Michigan Room (12th floor), 77 West Jackson, Chicago, IL 60603
• Washington, DC in the Ariel Rios East Building, Room 1153, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460
For more information, contact Lara Levison at USCAN, or contact the lead organizers for the two locations:
email@example.com – CHICAGO LEAD ORGANIZER
mattO@saveourenvironment.org – DC LEAD ORGANIZER
A Greener Economy TV Ad, YouTube Video, Earthjustice and National Wildlife Federation, 5.10.12
9 States and DC in Support of Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards, Sign-on Letter, 5.10.12
How the EPA’s New Oil and Gas Standards Will Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, World Resources Institute Blog, 5.9.12
Air Pollution, Asthma Burden Unevenly Shared Among U.S. Children, Huffington Post, 5.7.12
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.