Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's outside Fred Upton's Michigan offices?

from E&E PM:

POLITICS: Lung association targets Upton with childhood-asthma billboards (03/23/2011)

Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

The American Lung Association has targeted House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton for his efforts to stop U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions by placing billboards within sight of his district offices linking climate change with increased childhood asthma.

Upton, a Michigan Republican, shepherded a bill through his committee last week that would prevent EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from stationary sources in the short term and from motor vehicles beginning after model year 2016.

The lung association and others have argued that preventing EPA from taking steps to limit climate change would increase smog and trigger respiratory illness.

To underline this point, the advocacy group has placed four billboard signs within sight of Upton's Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices showing a little girl wearing a mask that administers asthma medication.

"As a parent who has actually had to give a nebuli treatment to a young daughter, I can actually sympathize with the image of the billboard personally," ALA Vice President Peter Iwanowicz said of the asthma treatment.

Upton and others have countered that his bill would not affect any Clean Air Act authorities aside from those linked to climate change, but Iwanowicz said that carbon dioxide levels alone could have an effect on public health.

"Greenhouse gases are directly related to a warmer environment. Ozone forms more frequently in a warmer environment than it does otherwise," he said. "Ozone is a very powerful respiratory irritant that we're trying to address, so there is a very powerful link between a child experiencing an asthma attack when they're breathing high levels of summertime smog and carbon pollution."

Iwanowicz said the Upton billboards were a "modest" buy -- $6,000 total for 28 days -- but he said other bought and earned media campaigns would follow.

"He's not listening to us, so we thought we needed to be out presenting information to the public," he said.

Upton, meanwhile, is using this week's congressional recess to conduct "listening" tours in his district. His office pointed to local media reports in which the congressman assures constituents that his bill "doesn't undermine the Clean Air Act."

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