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Tell the EPA to ban the use of methylene chloride and NMP in commercial and consumer paint strippers. Let’s protect workers and consumers from these harmful chemicals and switch to safer alternatives.

High-stakes debate looming over EPA power to regulate pollutants

March 2, 2011

The showdown in the U.S. Congress over the EPA’s power to regulate pollutants has been slightly postponed, but recent actions by the House of Representatives make clear that the upcoming debate will be high-stakes.

The assault on the EPA arose when the House recently passed a Continuing Resolution (C.R.).  Although ostensibly a budget bill, the C.R. was loaded down with amendments to limit or revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, mercury and other air toxics, water pollutants, coal ash, and mountaintop removal wastes. 

Many of the amendments to this supposed budget bill do not reduce expenditures.  Rather, they simply halt EPA enforcement of programs to stop big polluters from contaminating air and water. 

The C.R. has now been supplanted by a stopgap, short-term continuation of funding that does not include the House’s amendments.  Thus, Congress will temporarily dodge the bullet aimed at the heart of the EPA.

However, when the budget debate resumes in a few short weeks, both houses of Congress will likely have to consider the sweeping restrictions that the House tried to impose on the EPA.  These included provisions to:

  • Block the EPA from enforcing the rule that regulates mercury and other air toxics emissions from cement plants.  Mercury can damage the developing brain, reduce IQ, and cause mental retardation, behavioral problems, and developmental abnormalities.  Cement plants are a major source of mercury emissions in the U.S.
  • Eliminate funding for EPA control of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.  This would exempt coal-fired power plants, steel mills, refineries and other major greenhouse gas emitters.
  • Prohibit the use of funds by EPA to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, thus prematurely ending EPA consideration of regulating the safe disposal of this toxic substance.
  • Stop the EPA from administering or enforcing Clean Water Act provisions for mountaintop removal.
  • Halt certain state and regional water standards and programs.

In the long run, these actions are projected to increase health care costs as our society faces the rising illnesses that will inevitably result. PSR’s chapters and national office continue to work to underscore to Congress the importance to health of reducing air and water toxics. 

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

Action Alerts

  • Tell EPA: Ban toxic chemicals from paint strippers

    Tell the EPA to ban the use of methylene chloride and NMP in commercial and consumer paint strippers. Let’s protect workers and consumers from these harmful chemicals and switch to safer alternatives.

  • It's time to put our health before polluter profits

    Climate change is endangering us now, harming public health and causing damage to our communities from extreme weather events. Tell your senators that rolling back methane pollution standards, a key step in our fight against climate change, is unacceptable!

More action alerts»

Resources

  • Too Dirty, Too Dangerous

    PSR's report, Too Dirty, Too Dangerous: Why Health Professionals Reject Methane, based on summaries of recent medical and scientific studies, clearly conveys the health threats that accompany use of methane as a fuel. Read more »

  • Climate Change and Famine

    Climate change is already threatening the Earth’s ability to produce food. These effects are expected to worsen as climate change worsens. Read more »

  • Congressional Review Act Handout

    Congress is poised to use the CRA to dismantle Clean Air and Clean Water protections. CRA allows Congress by majority vote in both chambers (with limited debate and no opportunity for a filibuster) to void recently issued rules-resulting in communities losing dozens of health, safety and environmental protections. Read more »

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