Tuesday, September 20, 2011

House of Representatives readies vote on festival of dirty air: some things to look for

Some of you outside the Beltway may not be aware of this (and even some inside the Beltway may not be aware of everything) so here is a quick heads up:

The House of Representatives is readying a vote on a festival of dirty air -- what my friend John Walke of NRDC has termed the “worst air pollution bill ever to reach the House floor.” http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jwalke/oppose_train_act_the_worst_air.html#.TniIJ6hmJ2w.twitter

The so-called TRAIN act is expected to come up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives this Friday. As a preliminary matter, the House Rules Committee will examine the legislation – and perhaps add some dirty-air amendments – this afternoon. http://rules.house.gov/Legislation/legislationDetails.aspx?NewsID=489

This legislation started out as a “study” (obviously written by the coal lobby and perhaps some coal-burning power companies) aimed at delaying critical EPA standards to reduce deadly pollution from coal-burning power plants.

But this legislation has gotten even worse as it makes its way through the system. As John notes, it was already changed by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) in such a way that it could permanently block needed power plant cleanup. http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/image_uploads/Amendment_TRAIN_WhitfieldRoss_07.12.11.pdf

And even more trouble looms this afternoon as the Rules Committee examines possible amendments that could make the legislation even worse.

For example, this amendment http://www.rules.house.gov/amendments/R_02_xml919111355325532.pdf suggested by Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) would block the EPA from moving ahead with much-needed standards to reduce the sulfur content of gasoline – permitting cleaner and more advanced motor vehicles and reducing the smog-forming pollution from every car on the road today.

Do I need to point out that the Kinzinger-Gonzalez plan was ghost-written by the oil industry, which opposes the fuel cleanup?

And an even more dangerous amendment has been put into the proverbial hopper by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)

This amendment is a direct attack on the heart of the Clean Air Act. It would overturn a Supreme Court decision and mandate that the EPA consider “feasibility and cost” when writing national air quality standards.

EPA today is supposed to set national clean-air standards based on science alone so we can know if the air is actually clean or dirty. And, yes, this amendment unfortunately may have been given some impetus by the recent cowardly and deceitful decision by the Obama White House to block EPA from setting new national standards for ozone. The White House has already floated the threat of a veto against the base “TRAIN” legislation. It will be interesting to see if the White House has enough guts to oppose the Latta amendment this afternoon.

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