The U.S. House of Representatives forwarded a bill on Friday that environmental leaders warn would undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb air pollution and protect public health. Green groups are now urging the Senate and President Barack Obama to stand strong — and avoid a repeat of recent environmental health failures, such as the shelving of proposed ozone and greenhouse gas standards.
“The Tea Party House has passed, with ease, the most radical dirty-air legislation in the history of this country,” John Walke, the clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told HuffPost. “It absolutely eviscerates the legal standards for adopting emissions limits under the Clean Air Act.”
Introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.), the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act would create a special committee to oversee the EPA’s rules and regulations, and require the agency to consider economic impacts on polluters when it sets standards concerning how much air pollution is too much. For the last 41 years, since passage of the Clean Air Act, only scientific and medical considerations have been allowed in that analysis.
“This results in lying to the American people about whether the air is healthy or not,” said Walke.
The TRAIN Act would also repeal or block new and pending clean air safeguards, from standards that would curb mercury emissions from power plants to limits on pollution that travels across state lines. According to EPA estimates, such measures would save 140,000 lives over the five or more years of proposed delays.
Another provision would postpone new EPA regulations on gasoline — a welcome revision, according to industry groups. “The new requirements could be devastating for consumers and communities across the nation,” Misty McGowen, director of federal relations at the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement. “American taxpayers deserve a thorough analysis of the economic and jobs impacts before EPA moves forward with its proposal.”