Friday, September 23, 2011

House of Reps votes to gut the Clean Air Act

The House of Representatives voted this afternoon to gut the Clean Air Act.

It passed the so-called TRAIN Act – the mother of all dirty-air bills. It was mainly a party-line vote.

This legislation would overturn 41 years of the Clean Air Act – as well as a unanimous Supreme Court ruling – to change the process for setting national clean air standards for widespread dangerous pollutants such as smog and soot. This is a change that big polluters have been seeking literally for decades. (As a callow young-ish reporter, I watched a similar attempt fail in the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration.)

The bill would also block plans to clean up deadly pollution from coal-burning power plants. This portion of the bill alone would mean tens of thousands of premature death from dirty air.

We can only hope that this vile polluter wish list ends up in the shredder. As you know, the White House has threatened a veto.

A more pressing concern is that all or part of this legislation could be attached to deficit, spending or other “must-pass” legislation.

As you know, some of the sponsors of this bill erroneously claimed yesterday that Clean Air Watch and other health and environmental groups supported this polluter dream. The bill sponsors have also mischaracterized this legislation as a mere “study” -- as if it were benign. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a polluter wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Indeed, this has been a bonanza for polluter lobbyists. I am told quite reliably that many of the members had virtually no idea what they were voting on. They were simply following slogans.

To see some examples of the misrepresentations, note that my friend, John Walke, with NRDC outlines some of the other bogus claims made during the debate:

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