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Upton-Inhofe Bill Weakens Clean Air Act

Despite the fact that Americans overwhelmingly believe (78%) that the EPA should protect the air we breathe and the water we drink with safeguards that hold corporate polluters accountable, House Republicans passed the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) by a vote of 255-172 on April 7th to weaken our ability to ensure clean air and a healthier environment for our children, by eliminating every tool that the EPA has to address serious public health threats from carbon pollution.

The Clean Air Act has proven time and again that it can improve the air that we breathe even while the economy grows.  A recent EPA report shows how the Clean Air Act has been crucial in protecting public health -- in 2010 preventing 160,000 premature deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, and more than 100,000 hospital visits by preventing millions of cases of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and asthma.  This bill is opposed by the American Lung Association and over a hundred other health, labor, national security and environmental groups.  The White House has stated that the President's senior advisors would recommend that President Obama veto it.

We trust that scientists and health experts at the EPA understand pollution better than Members of Congress, yet this bill would legislatively overturn scientific findings by these experts.

More facts about the legislation:

  • The bill will increase our dependence on oil by hundreds of millions of barrels according to the EPA-- preventing EPA from setting carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks that cut pollution and save oil.  Objective Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact has rated as FALSE the GOP claim that blocking the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases will stop rising gas prices.
  • Cleaning up air pollution can create new American jobs - in designing and manufacturing new technologies, installing and operating new equipment, building cleaner facilities and electric cars. 
  • The Upton-Inhofe bill would amend the Clean Air Act and block the EPA from regulating dangerous carbon emissions. The bill repeals the Environmental Protection Agency's scientific finding that carbon pollution endangers Americans' health and the environment.  We know of no precedent for Members of Congress passing legislation to negate the scientific conclusions of our independent scientists and public health experts.   The bill also overturns the Supreme Court's determination that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  
  • The Upton-Inhofe bill exempts the nation's largest polluters from regulation at the expense of public health and energy security.  This proposal may be good for Koch Oil but it would gut the landmark Clean Air Act and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from addressing the enormous threat posed to the health of Americans by carbon pollution. 
  • The Clean Air Act has sharply reduced air pollution over the past forty years, allowing millions of Americans to lead healthier, more productive, and longer lives.  Since 1970, the CAA has reduced key air pollutants that cause smog and particulate pollution by more than 60 percent, while the economy has more than tripled.  And since the CAA Amendments in 1990, electricity production is up and prices are stable. 
  • As the Supreme Court found in Massachusetts v. EPA, if EPA finds that carbon pollution is dangerous, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to take steps to protect the public.  EPA has used its authority wisely and responsibly to implement one national automobile standard to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions.  EPA has also required large new power plants, refineries and other large industrial facilities to incorporate energy efficiency measures to minimize their carbon pollution.  These are modest and reasonable steps that in many cases will actually save money, but the Upton-Inhofe bill would eliminate EPA's ability to address carbon pollution in any way.
  • The Upton-Inhofe bill would prevent EPA and states from setting oil-saving, carbon pollution standards for new cars, trucks and other vehicles. The bill threatens current carbon pollution standards for model years 2012 to 2016 vehicles, which are expected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and save consumers $3,000 at the pump on average. The bill also explicitly bars EPA and states from building on this successful program to further reduce oil dependence in subsequent years. And it bars EPA from achieving oil savings from other sources such as planes, trains, boats, and large construction equipment.  At a time of rising gas prices and volatile oil markets, Americans know that reducing our dependence on oil is good for their pocketbooks and good for our national security.  House Republicans are trying to take advantage of Americans' pain at the pump to justify their unpopular policies to stop EPA from updating limits on air pollution that threaten our health. 
  • “The American Lung Association strongly opposes H.R. 910, legislation that would block the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update clean air standards. If passed by Congress, this legislation would interfere with EPA's ability to implement the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act prevents tens of thousands of adverse health effects caused by air pollution, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and even premature deaths each year.” [letter, 3/10/11]
  • Many groups have opposed or raised concerns about the legislation, including American Public Health Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; Physicians for Social Responsibility; 1,882 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals; retired high-ranking U.S. military officers and; 2,505 scientists; consumer and business groups, like Consumers Union and  Small Business Majority;  civil rights organizations, including NAACP,  League of United Latin American Citizens, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund;  faith organizations from the Episcopal Church to the National Council of Churches;  and environmental groups such as Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Environment America, National Audubon Society, Wilderness Society Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, and Union of Concerned Scientists.