Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content
Share this page

Support PSR!

Your membership supports PSR's work to reduce global warming, eliminate toxics in our environment and abolish nuclear weapons. YOU make our work possible. Thank you.

Donate Now »

Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

On sale now! Enter code M17ENV25 at checkout for 25% discount.

Congressional action would dismantle fundamental safeguards to health

February 25, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives launched a major assault on basic anti-pollution safeguards when it passed a “Continuing Resolution” on Feb. 19.

A Continuing Resolution (C.R.) is a budget bill, temporarily extending government funding until Congress can hammer out a new annual budget.  But this year, the C.R. was loaded down with amendments that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from carrying out its basic function:  protecting Americans from deadly air and water pollutants.

The Senate will consider the Continuing Resolution the first week of March.  PSR members are urged to ask their Senators to reject the House’s dismantling of these fundamental protections and pass a budget that protects human health and a clean, healthy environment.

Many of the amendments passed by the House have no impact on the budget.  Rather, they forbid the EPA to enforce the programs that stop big polluters from contaminating our air and water.

Ironically, this will drive up health care costs as we deal with the rising illnesses that will inevitably result.

Among the amendments that the House passed that will increase the risks to health:

  • Amendment 165 would block the EPA from enforcing out an already-existing rule to clean up mercury and other air toxics from cement plants.  Mercury is a powerful neurotoxicant that can damage the developing brain.  Exposure during gestation, infancy or childhood can cause loss of IQ and mental retardation, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems, and developmental abnormalities.

    Cement plants are a major source of mercury emissions in the U.S.  and also emit lead, arsenic, acid gases and particulate matter, causing respiratory problems, asthma attacks, and other illnesses.

    This amendment was introduced by Rep. Carter of Texas.
  • Amendment 466 would eliminate funding for the EPA to implement, administer or enforce any law or regulation that would limit emissions of greenhouse gases from stationary sources.  Effective retroactively to January 1, 2011, it would exempt all stationary emitters of greenhouse gases, such as coal-fired power plants, steel mills and refineries.

    By requiring the EPA to turn a blind eye to carbon dioxide emissions, this amendment would overturn the Clean Air Act, which has saved lives in this country for 40 years; a Supreme Court decision affirming that the EPA is required under the law to address greenhouse gas pollution; and reams of scientific evidence.

    It would also greatly increase the danger that the planet will overheat, creating new deserts, disrupting agriculture and food production, flooding coastal areas, expanding disease ranges, and potentially leading to vast loss of life.

    This amendment was introduced by Texas Congressmen Poe, Barton and Carter.
  • Amendment 217 would prohibit the use of funds by EPA to “develop, propose, finalize, implement, administer, or enforce” any regulation that identifies coal ash as a hazardous waste subject to regulation.  This amendment would halt in mid-process the EPA’s consideration of issuing federal regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash across the nation.

    PSR board, members and staff joined tens of thousands of other Americans in testifying and submitting comments to the EPA in 2010, calling for regulations that would protect human health from the arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, thallium and other heavy metal contaminants from coal ash.

    This amendment was introduced by Rep. McKinley of West Virginia.

Rep. McKinley also introduced a successful amendment to stop EPA from administering or enforcing the sections of the Clean Water Act that govern dredge-and-fill permits. Those permits are needed by mountaintop-removal operations.

Other amendments affected regional water quality.  Rep. Rooney of Florida sponsored a successful bid to stop EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida's lakes and flowing waters.  Rep. Goodlatte of Virginia’s amendment would prevent federal funds from being spent on control of chemicals or a watershed implementation plan for the Chesapeake Bay.

Not all the amendments were budget-neutral; total funding for the EPA was slashed by $3 billion.

Action Alerts

More action alerts»


  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

  • Clean Water Rule Fact Sheet

    The Clean Water Rule (CWR) protects the nation's rain-dependent streams and wetlands from toxic pollution under the Clean Water Act. Read more »

  • Nuclear Weapons Community Cost Calculator

    Each April, Dr. Bob Dodge, PSR-LA Board Member and co-founder of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, calculates the cost of nuclear weapons programs to our communities. See what the costs are in your community. Read more »

In the Spotlight