Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sneak attack! US Senate to vote this pm on bill to roll back toxic pollution controls

I realize many folks in DC are focused on Solyndra and charades over the “farm dust” issue (the Washington Post skewered EPA opponents quite effectively yesterday), but here is an important issue flying under the radar. I want to make sure you are aware of it.

This afternoon at about 3 pm, the US Senate is scheduled to vote on nefarious legislation that would roll back EPA toxic pollution controls for industrial boilers and cement plants as well as require congressional approval for any major rules in the future. (The so-called REINS Act, for you insiders.) See the Senate schedule at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CCAL-112scal-2011-11-03/html/CCAL-112scal-2011-11-03-pt0.htm

The legislation is S 1786 introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). It is a Republican alternative to the latest Democratic jobs bill, which is aimed at funding highway and infrastructure projects. (S 1769).

The Hatch bill is a variation on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) war on clean air, including some of the dirty-air provisions previously approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It is a dirty-air wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It appears to be part of a Republican strategy to put some potentially vulnerable Democratic senators on the spot. It may also be a way to pave the way for subsequent efforts to attach dirty-air provisions to “must-pass” spending or budget legislation.

We do not anticipate this radical attack on clean air to pass. But we and others will be watching the votes, for example, of embattled Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown: will he vote in lockstep for more toxic pollution from boilers and cement plants – or to protect Massachusetts kids?

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