Clean Air Act Digest, 6.29.12
As reported in the previous Digest, supporters of EPA’s standards to reduce mercury and air toxics from power plants won an important victory in the Senate last week, defeating Senator Inhofe’s Congressional Review Act resolution to void them by a vote of 46-53. Follow this link to see how your Senators voted. Also, be sure to see the action alert below in order to thank or express disappointment to your Senators.
Unfortunately, the standards continue to face opposition. Senators Alexander and Pryor, while they voted against the Inhofe resolution last week, are asking Senators to sign a letter to the President asking him to give power plants more time to comply with the rule, and they say they plan to introduce legislation as well. This additional time is not needed and will put lives at risk unnecessarily.
Yesterday, June 28, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which contains many harmful anti-environmental riders and deep cuts in funding for a wide range of environmental programs. During the full-committee markup, amendments passed to prevent EPA from reducing carbon pollution from vehicles and power plants. The bill may move to the full House in July.
On Monday, June 25, EPA proposed changes to its 2010 air standards (for air toxics and new source performance) for the Portland cement manufacturing industry. After EPA issued the final rules in 2010, a federal court ruled that EPA should have considered some additional issues; however, in reconsidering the rules, EPA went far beyond the court’s requirements and yielded to pressure from the cement industry to weaken them significantly. The proposed changes would extend the compliance deadline by two years, to September 2015, and weaken monitoring requirements and emissions limits for particulate matter (toxic soot).
By EPA’s own calculations, the two-year delay will cause between 1,920 and 5,000 avoidable deaths and 3,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 34,000 cases of aggravated asthma and 260,000 days when people have to miss work because cement plant pollution has made them sick. Cement kilns are also one of the biggest sources of human-made mercury emissions, second only to coal-fired power plants.
On June 14, as a result of litigation, EPA proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particle pollution (soot). Soot comes from power plant smokestacks, cars, and other industrial sources, and can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even death. These life-saving standards will revise the 2006 Bush administration standards that were struck down as not sufficiently protective of human health. The rule will be published in the Federal Register this Friday, and the comment period will run through August 31. There will be public hearings in Philadelphia and Sacramento on July 17 and 19; see below for more details.
Carbon Pollution Standards in the Court
On Tuesday the federal appeals court in Washington delivered a resounding victory for science, the rule of law, and common sense by upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark actions to start curbing the dangerous carbon pollution driving climate change.
Ruling unanimously in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, the appeals court rejected each and every attack from the coal companies, power companies, trade associations, Koch-funded science-denying right-wing groups, and ultra-conservative elected officials that have sought to stop EPA from doing its job under the Clean Air Act to protect the American people from the dangers of global warming.
This is a huge victory for our children’s future. The court’s ruling clears the way for EPA to keep moving forward under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from motor vehicles, new power plants, and other big industrial sources. To read more, please see David Doniger’s Blog.
–Thanks to Sierra Club for the language!
Time to give some THANKS—or express disappointment— for your Senators’ votes on S.J. Res 37.
Extremists in the Senate, led by James Inhofe of Oklahoma, attempted to roll back recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants (MATS). Passage of Senator Inhofe’s bill would have repealed these life-saving protections and blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from future actions to clean up dirty power plants. These protections will clean up more than 90 percent of the mercury emitted from dirty and outdated coal-fired power plants, our country’s largest remaining source of mercury pollution.
To learn more about this extremist effort, and to learn who deserves a big THANKS— and who needs to hear how disappointed you are—check out this blog by NRDC:
To get you started on how you might show your gratitude or frustration, linked is some sample language originally drafted by our friends at the Sierra Club. Also, check out Sierra Club’s email action alert to take action yourself or to use as a template to create an action alert for your organization.
The EPA will hold two public hearings on the soot rule: July 17 in Philadelphia and July 19 in Sacramento, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. To sign up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org giving the name of the witness(es) and the time slot you seek. For more information, visit the EPA website.
Climate Smack-Down: Court Upholds EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards In Triumph of Science and Law, Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 6.28.12
Court Decisions Pave Way for Continued Progress to Create Good Jobs, Protect Environment, BlueGreen Alliance Press Release, 6.26.12
Gearing Up: Smart Standards Create Good Jobs Building Cleaner Cars, BlueGreen Alliance Report, 6.26.12
Joint Letter in Support of Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants, Joint Sign-on, 6.25.12
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 email@example.com for more details. Click here for past issues.