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Urgent! Speak out for healthy air!

February 28, 2011

Last week the House of Representatives passed a “Continuing Resolution” (budget bill) with amendments denying the EPA the power to regulate pollutants.  The bill limited or revoked the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, mercury and other air toxics, water pollutants, coal ash, and mountaintop removal wastes. 

The Senate will consider this bill, possibly on March 3.

The House voted 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.

Other amendments passed by the House would stop the EPA from administering or enforcing Clean Water Act provisions for mountaintop removal, and would halt certain state and regional water standards and programs.

Although the Continuing Resolution is a budget bill, many of the amendments passed by the House do not reduce expenditures.  Rather, they simply halt EPA enforcement of programs to stop big polluters from contaminating air and water.

In the long run, these actions are projected to increase health care costs as our society faces the rising illnesses that will inevitably result.

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

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