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Letter to Senate on Collins Boiler Amendment

March 6, 2012

RE: Oppose Senator Collins’ Amendment 1660 to S.1813

Dear Senator,

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we urge you to oppose Senator Collins’ amendment (S.A. 1660 to S.1813) to the transportation funding package currently being negotiated. This legislation would roll back existing clean air safeguards to reduce toxic pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators and indefinitely delay any new standards by a minimum of 3.5 years. This minimum delay alone will result in: 28,350 more premature deaths, over 17,000 heart attacks and more than 180,000 cases of asthma attacks.

Industrial boilers and incinerators pump thousands of tons of pollutants like mercury, lead, chromium, and particulates into the air we breathe every year. Industrial boilers are the U.S.'s third largest source of mercury pollution, and the second largest source of toxic industrial pollution overall. This toxic pollution is known to cause developmental problems in children, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and stroke.

This rider does not simply delay standards to regulate these pollutants, as some have falsely reported. Instead, the proposed legislation fundamentally weakens the Clean Air Act – a bedrock public health law – and delays compliance deadlines for industry by a minimum of 3.5 years. The amendment then allows indefinite compliance delays by prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring compliance with new standards any "earlier than 5 years" after issuance, and then eliminating the Clean Air Act's firm compliance deadlines and allowing compliance to be delayed by 8,10, 15 years or even longer.

This rider would re-write toxics standards for industrial boilers, stripping away longstanding Clean Air Act provisions that require deep reductions in toxic air pollution and firm compliance deadlines. Instead, the rider would require EPA to mandate the weakest, “least burdensome” standards. To be clear, the amendment mandates measures that will accomplish virtually no reductions in toxic air pollution such as mercury, which harms our children’s developing brains.

We urge you to reject the calls from corporate polluters to weaken the Clean Air Act and delay much-needed protections from mercury, lead, dioxins and acid gases. Opposing this, and any other, anti-Clean Air Act rider, will show true leadership. Not only would these riders result in tens of thousands of premature deaths and avoidable illnesses, they are unrelated to the underlying package and have no place in the negotiations.

The Collins amendment is bad legislation reflecting an irresponsible assault on substantive Clean Air Act authorities. Again, we hope you will stand with public health and vote NO on S.A. 1660 to S.1813.

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