Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thirty-four senators: we must protect Clean Air Act

Senators Stand up for Clean Air Act

WASHINGTON, March 31 – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and 30 colleagues today introduced a resolution calling for continued implementation of the Clean Air Act.

In the face of efforts by House Republicans and some senators to weaken the nation’s clean air protections, the resolution which specifies the benefits of the Clean Air Act has 34 original cosponsors who and will continue to seek additional support from their colleagues.

The landmark law saves 160,000 Americans from premature death every year and helps avoid tens of thousands of cases of lung disease, heart attacks, and emergency room visits. The act also has reduced major air pollution by 41 percent over the last 20 years even as the economy grew by 64 percent.

Sanders said, “It is absolutely unconscionable that in the year 2011 the Congress is debating amendments to gut the Clean Air Act and I am going to fight back. I also think that at a time when House Republicans might force a government shutdown unless the EPA backs down from protecting public health, we must not let the budget process be used to deregulate polluters.”

Whitehouse said, “Americans are expecting us to roll up our sleeves and get to work, solving today’s pressing issues – putting America back to work, and reducing the federal deficit. Instead, radical Republicans are using the budget process to push for extreme policy positions that would gut the Clean Air Act and roll back important public health protections. These same Republicans are literally demanding that we compromise our children’s health to get a short-term budget deal.”

Carper said, "For the last forty years, the EPA has use the Clean Air Act to foster economic growth and protect Americans from life threatening air pollution. Since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the EPA has saved thousands of lives and saved billions of dollars in health care costs, while keeping electricity rates – adjusted for inflation - constant. At the same time American jobs in engineering and design, as well as in manufacturing, installing and operating pollution control and clean energy technology are being created to meet our clean air needs. Put it another way, the Clean Air Act benefits outweigh the costs by a margin of 30 to 1. Talk about a return on investment. It just doesn't get much better than that.”

Kerry said, “Ever since Richard Nixon signed it into law, the Clean Air Act has saved tens of thousands of lives by curbing air pollution and helped jumpstart new technologies that created millions of jobs in the process. But somehow our political environment has become so divorced from reality, facts, science and history that today even a commonsense law like the Clean Air Act can be used as a partisan punching bag. This Resolution showcases just some of the Clean Air Act’s many achievements, and I hope it will remind my colleagues that under this law we were able to grow our economy and cut harmful pollution that threatens our families.”

The Senate is expected to vote soon on up to four amendments that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. An amendment by the Senate Republican Leadership would overturn EPA’s scientific finding that greenhouse gas emissions are a public health threat and allow the biggest polluters to spew carbon pollution without restrictions. It also would undermine fuel economy standards that are projected to save drivers of new vehicles up to $2,800 at the gas pump, save more than 2 million barrels of oil per day (roughly as much as the U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf), and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

House Republicans are also reportedly pushing for riders attached to their budget bill, which would shut down Clean Air Act enforcement of big polluters’ greenhouse gas emissions, to be included in a congressional budget deal.

Sanders’ resolution is also sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Environment Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Democrat Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Contact: Michael Briggs or Will Wiquist (202) 224-5141

Lung Association to Prez: no toxic riders!

American Lung Association: No Toxic Riders

Statement of Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association

WASHINGTON –The American Lung Association calls on President Barack Obama to remain resolute for public health and resist any Continuing Resolution that includes policy riders that prevent implementation and enforcement of health and environmental safeguards. Press accounts indicate that the President may be considering support for a CR that includes some of these toxic measures. We urge him to stand fast to protect our children and support a funding measure that is not toxic to public health.

EPA science advisers: beware of new smog standard that provides "little margin of safety"

As you know, the EPA (amid all the other controversies) is actively reviewing national air standards for ozone, which we commonly refer to as smog.

The EPA asked its independent science advisers (yet again) to review the evidence. You will recall the Bush administration ignored the scientists’ advice and set a standard weaker than that justified by the evidence. EPA technically and legally is reconsidering that bad decision.

The science advisers officially responded to EPA in a March 30 letter that can be seen here:

http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/SABPRODUCT.NSF/RSSRecentHappeningsCASAC/F08BEB48C1139E2A8525785E006909AC/$File/EPA-CASAC-11-004-unsigned+.pdf

And there is a very interesting wrinkle. Even though the science advisers reiterated their unanimous support for a new standard within the range of 60-70 parts per billion (compared to the Bush standard of 75), they also included language which seems designed to point the EPA towards the lower end of that range.

Note, for example, on page 2 of the letter, the scientists say


Given the results of EPA’s exposure and risk assessments, setting a new NAAQS in the range of 60 to 70 ppb is appropriate, but would provide little margin of safety at its upper end.
[Emphasis added]


Similarly, on page 14 of the letter, the scientists note that even some healthy people could be adversely affected even at the low end of the range:

there is a great degree of variability of response magnitude among the healthy individuals studied, with some having clinically relevant responses, even at 60 ppb.


A separate recent EPA analysis of the ozone issue appears to confirm the need for a very tough standard. It found that adverse health effects have been documented at levels of 60 ppb and below. See table 2-3 on pp 2-36 - 2-38 [Chapter 2 under “downloads”] of the EPA “integrated science assessment” at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/isa/recordisplay.cfm?deid=217463#Download


What does all this mean? We hope that EPA doesn’t wimp out and set the weakest possible standard within the recommended range. Public health groups have urged EPA to set a standard no weaker than 60.

Is President Obama really ready to throw the environment under the bus?

Much attention has been paid in recent days to the Senate small business legislation and the various efforts to use it as a backdoor assault on EPA’s authority to deal with climate change.

While we continue to monitor that situation, I do want to make sure you are aware of a possibly even more grave threat – one involving the secret budget talks taking place. (I know some of you have reported on this, so my apologies for any redundancies. But this is so important I want to make sure the story is known widely.)

Associated Press reported yesterday evening (see below) that the White House appears ready to throw the environment under the bus in these budget negotiations. This passage in particular is worth noting:

A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House's position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private.

It's not clear which proposals the White House might accept, but those backed by Republicans would block the government from carrying out regulations on greenhouse gases, putting in place a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.

Perhaps this is the classic trial balloon. If so, someone needs to puncture it pronto. We’d hate to think that the President-in-Re-Election-Mode would sell out the environment. But frankly, his “energy” speech yesterday wasn’t particularly reassuring.

We will all stay tuned. Here is the whole story if you haven’t seen it.

#. #. #

Budget talks aimed at avoiding shutdown resume

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Wed Mar 30, 7:03 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Congressional negotiators struggling to prevent a government shutdown next week are working on a proposal built around $33 billion in spending cuts over the next six months — considerably less than tea party activists demanded.

The tentative split-the-differences plan would end up where GOP leaders started last month as they tried to fulfill a campaign pledge to return spending for agencies' daily operations to levels in place before President Barack Obama took office. That calculation takes into account the fact that the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, is about half over.


The $33 billion figure, disclosed by a congressional aide familiar with the talks, is well below the $60 billion-plus in cuts that the House passed last month. But it does represent significant movement by Senate Democrats and the administration after originally backing a freeze at current rates.

Tea party-backed GOP lawmakers want more. With a tea party rally set for Thursday on Capitol Hill, it's unclear how many of the 87 freshmen Republicans elected last fall could live with the arrangement between top Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Both sides said the figure under consideration is tentative at best and depends on the outcome of numerous policy stands written into the bill. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said "there's no agreement on a number for the spending cuts. Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to."

The White House said Vice President Joe Biden and budget director Jacob Lew planned to meet Wednesday evening at the Capitol with Senate Democratic leaders.

A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House's position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private.

It's not clear which proposals the White House might accept, but those backed by Republicans would block the government from carrying out regulations on greenhouse gases, putting in place a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.

While some conservatives appear insistent on the full range of spending cuts, others recognize that compromise is required to win Obama's signature and support from Democrats who control the Senate.

"Compromise on the subject of spending is a tough sell. It doesn't mean it's an impossible sell," said freshman Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. "There is a serious mandate to cut spending. Now having said that, I also live in a realistic world and I understand the dynamics involved in having one leg of a three-legged stool under our control."

Far bigger fights are ahead on a longer-term GOP budget plan that takes a more comprehensive approach to the budget woes. Also looming is a must-pass bill to allow the government to borrow more money to meet its commitments. Republicans hope to use that measure to force further spending cuts on the president.

"I don't believe that shutting down government is a solution to the problem. Republicans and Democrats need to work out a compromise," said Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H. "Let's get this over with and get on to the budget."

But Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who earlier warned that "It's time to pick a fight," wants party leaders to hang tough.

"You never get a second chance at making a first impression," Pence said. "Our first impression with the American people needs to be that we kept our word and we found the budget savings that we promised to find. I'm still cautiously optimistic that we're going to do just that."

The talks are between the members and staff of the House and Senate appropriations committees, who understand the details of the legislation better than the leadership offices that so far have conducted most of the negotiations.

"I'm glad that we're beginning to have some conversations," said Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "We hope to make them fruitful. We don't want a shutdown, so we'll do the best we know how."

Boehner and his colleagues are still publicly calling for the Senate to pass its own version, and Boehner says the talks are going so haltingly that he doesn't know the shape of any final legislation that Obama might sign.

The legislation would bankroll the day-to-day operating budgets of federal agencies — including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — through Sept. 30, the end of the current budget year.

Last month, House Republicans passed a measure cutting more than $60 billion from the $1.1 trillion budgeted for such programs last year. All the cuts came from domestic programs and foreign aid, which make up about half of the pot. Senate Democrats said that was too extreme and they killed the plan, citing cuts to education, health research, food inspection and other programs and services.

They also oppose many GOP policy stands attached to the spending plan, including one that effectively would block implementation of the new health care law. Social conservatives also strongly back cutting off money for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions in addition to the family planning services the government funds.

In a gesture aimed at winning the public relations battle, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the House would consider legislation Friday that automatically would enact the GOP's original measure unless the Senate passed a yearlong spending bill by next Friday's midnight shutdown deadline.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nineteen Senate Democrats to Obama: don't accept anti-environmental budget amendments

See the actual text of the letter and the list of signers below. Are things so bad that they actually have to point this out to the President?!


The President
White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Vice President
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. President and Mr. Vice President,

As you know, the Environmental Protection Agency was a primary target of H.R. 1. The Republican proposal drastically cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and included backdoor efforts to undermine the nation’s landmark environmental laws.

We stand with a wide range of the nation’s leading public health organizations in opposing efforts to undermine the Clean Air Act, including the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Thoracic Society, the American Nurses Association, the National Medical Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Trust for America's Health.

While we all agree that there must be cuts to the budget in order to reduce the federal deficit, it must be done in thoughtful and responsible way that does not sacrifice a clean and safe environment. Our nation is facing tough economic times, but tough times call for intelligent decision-making and wisdom, not reckless cuts that will do more harm than good – cuts that will lead to illness and premature death.

Recently, many of us participated in a press conference with leading health experts including the American Lung Association who said "H.R. 1 is toxic to public health" and it "will have dire consequences for all Americans, especially people with lung diseases, including lung cancer, asthma and emphysema."

We look forward to working together with you to develop a reasonable budget with no harmful riders that will enable EPA to maintain the environmental safeguards that have protected the American people for 40 years.

Sincerely,


Barbara Boxer
Chairman, Environment and Public Works Committee

John Kerry
United States Senator

Joe Lieberman
United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Patty Murray
United States Senator

Richard Durbin
United States Senator

Charles Schumer
United States Senator

Thomas Carper
United States Senator

Senator Marie Cantwell
United States Senator

Frank Lautenberg
United States Senator

Bob Menendez
United States Senator

Ben Cardin
United States Senator

Bernie Sanders
United States Senator

Sheldon Whitehouse
United States Senator

Tom Udall
United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Jeff Merkley
United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator

Al Franken
United States Senator

Stabenow amendment to small biz bill aimed at California vehicle standards

As you may be aware, there were already three suggested amendments to Senate small business legislation aimed at kneecapping – or at least limiting – EPA authority to deal with greenhouse gases. (The amendments by Senators McConnell, Rockefeller and Baucus.)

And now a new contender has appeared. This an amendment by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – or should I say D-car industry?

It is a monstrosity posing as something benign. It is sort of a combination of the worst of the Rockefeller and Baucus amendments, with a special deal for the car industry thrown in for good measure.

This amendment would: block EPA stationary ghg rules for two years. It would exempt farm-related emissions. And – notably – it would prevent the EPA from approving any effort by California to set tougher ghg standards for motor vehicles for model years after 2016.

As you probably know, California is in the process of working on better standards post-2016. The auto industry is opposed to that.

So this part of the amendment came right out of the word processors of the auto industry. This amendment is a dagger aimed at California’s heart.

The politics of special interests are alive and well in Washington!

Environmental groups are mobilizing in opposition. Stay tuned. A vote is possible today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Huge coalition urges Congress to restore "clean diesel" grants

From E&E PM

More than 400 environmental, health and labor groups are urging Congress to restore grants for "clean diesel" projects cut by the Obama administration.

In letters to leaders on the House and Senate appropriations committees, the groups request $50 million for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, which pays for pollution upgrades for large trucks...

In its proposed fiscal 2012 budget, the White House eliminated funding for the program in an effort to cut overall federal spending...

"Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment play an important role in the nation's economy and are getting cleaner every day," the letter states. "DERA was designed to reduce emissions from the 20 million existing diesel engines in use today by as much as 90 percent. The continued need for DERA has been proven."

Among the 444 groups and companies signing the letter are the American Lung Association, Clean Air Watch, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Diesel Technology Forum.

The letter was sent to House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Michael Simpson (R-Idaho) and ranking member James Moran (D-Va.) and to Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wall Street Journal remains the voice of the anti-EPA faction of corporate America

As evidenced by the editorial below. Of course, a number of more progressive companies support the EPA. But you'd never know it from this drivel..

The Senate's EPA Showdown

Democrats face a moment of truth on regulatory cap and trade

The Environmental Protection Agency debate lands in the Senate this week, amid the makings of a left-right coalition to mitigate the agency's abuses. Few other votes this year could do more to help the private economy—but only if enough Democrats are willing to buck the White House.

This moment arrived unexpectedly, with Majority Leader Harry Reid opening a small business bill to amendments. Republican leader Mitch McConnell promptly introduced a rider to strip the EPA of the carbon regulation authority that the Obama Administration has given itself. Two weeks ago, Mr. Reid pulled the bill from the floor once it became clear Mr. McConnell might have the 13 Democrats he needs to clear 60.

The votes are now due as soon as tomorrow, and Mr. Reid is trying to attract 41 Democrats with a rival amendment from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus. The Baucus plan is a political veneer that would exempt some farms and businesses from the EPA maw but at the cost of endorsing everything else. The question for Democrats is whether their loyalties to President Obama and EPA chief Lisa Jackson trump the larger economic good, not to mention constituents already facing far higher energy costs.

The story of how we arrived at this pass begins in 1999, when Clinton EPA chief Carol Browner floated the idea that carbon dioxide could be regulated as a pollutant under the 1970 Clean Air Act and its later amendments. The Bush Administration rejected Ms. Browner's theory, in part because Congress kept rejecting statutory language to that effect.

Several states and green groups sued, and the question reached the Supreme Court in 2006. With Massachusetts v. EPA, a 5-4 majority broadly rewrote the definition of "pollutant," but it also narrowly held that "EPA no doubt has significant latitude as to the manner, timing, content, and coordination of its regulations" (our emphasis). In other words, the Court created new powers via judicial invention but left their use to the discretion of the executive branch.

The Obama Administration moved to exploit this power by threatening that the EPA would make a carbon "endangerment finding" if Congress didn't pass a climate bill. This threat was potent for the simple reason that the Clean Air Act's intrusive command-and-control systems were never written or meant to address an emission as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide. It's like trying to perform surgery with a butter knife, and Mr. Obama hoped that the pain would force industry to beg for cap and tax. The EPA went ahead with its endangerment ruling, but cap and trade failed in the Senate last year anyway.

The EPA now claims its carbon regulation is compelled by the Supreme Court, as if Congress can't change the law, as well as by "science," as if Congress is a potted plant. Someone even disinterred former Republican EPA Administrators William Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman to claim in the Washington Post last week that Congress would somehow be voting against "environmental progress."

But a vote for the McConnell amendment, which would permanently bar the EPA from regulating carbon unless Congress passed new legislation, is justified on democratic prerogatives alone. Whatever one's views of Massachusetts v. EPA or climate science, no elected representative has ever voted on an EPA plan that has often involved the unilateral redrafting of plain-letter law.

A vote to overrule the EPA is also needed to remove the regulatory uncertainty hanging over the economy. This harm is already apparent in energy, where the EPA is trying to drive coal-fired power out of existence. The core electricity generation that the country needs to meet future demand is not being built, and it won't be until the EPA is bridled. This same dynamic is also chilling the natural gas boom in the Northeast, and it is making U.S. energy-intensive industries less competitive world-wide.

As the EPA screws tighten, the costs will be passed along to consumers, with the same damage as a tax increase but none of the revenues. Eventually, the EPA plan will appreciably lower the U.S. standard of living. Hardest hit will be the middle-American regions that rely on coal or heavy industry, though the EPA bulldozer will run over small businesses too. The Clean Air Act, once the carbon doomsday machine has been activated, won't merely apply to "major" sources of emissions like power plants or factories. Its reach will include schools, farms, hospitals, restaurants, basically any large building.

Which brings us to this week's Senate votes. Democrats to watch will be Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Tim Johnson (South Dakota), Tom Carper (Delaware), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Kent Conrad (North Dakota), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Jim Webb (Virginia), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) and John Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (West Virginia). All of them have been publicly critical of the EPA, and, not incidentally, most of them face a tough re-election.

The White House and Mr. Reid will offer phony alternatives to keep 41 Democrats in the corral. The Baucus amendment is the classic Beltway trick of trying to provide political cover while not solving the problem. Mr. Rockefeller is sponsoring a two-year delay before the EPA rules take effect, but that will merely defer the problem.

The McConnell amendment is one of the best proposals for growth and job creation to make it onto the Senate docket in years. If Mr. Obama is intent on defending the EPA's regulatory assault, then the least Senate Democrats can do is force him to defend his choices himself.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Washington Post editorial: Stop the coal resurgence in its tracks

By Editorial, Saturday, March 26

AS THE CRISIS at Japan’s stricken reactors wears on, it’s increasingly clear what a step away from nuclear power will mean for Europe and Asia: more coal, which means more nasty particulates, carcinogens, carbon dioxide and other dangerous effluences spewing from sooty smokestacks around the world.

As radiation levels outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant rise, so did the value of stocks of American companies that mine and export the black stuff. Business analysts expect demand for U.S. coal to jump, along with mine owners’ profits.

Forgive us if we don’t cheer as Europe, Japan and others re-embrace this fossil fuel. In a study on coal power out this month, the American Lung Association (ALA) reported that “over 386,000 tons of 84 separate hazardous air pollutants spew from over 400 plants in 46 states” in this country, causing billions in damage to public health annually. Just one of those coal-fired facilities in Wisconsin, the ALA notes, is responsible for an estimated seven premature deaths, 100 trips to the emergency room and 520 asthma attacks every year.

Fortunately, America continues to move away from coal, though slowly and despite entrenched opposition to rational energy policy in Congress. That’s because the Obama administration is using its existing authorities under the Clean Air Act to clamp down on coal.

The Environmental Protection Agency is targeting hazardous discharges such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury; separately, it is regulating carbon dioxide emissions, which coal plants produce in abundance. Last year, Credit Suisse estimated that, along with needed upgrades, the EPA’s rules on those hazardous discharges would result in 50 or more gigawatts of coal plant closures, out of an American coal-fired fleet of 340 gigawatts. If you think that sounds too disruptive, consider that plants producing 103 gigawatts of this total have no environmental controls at all, and that 58 gigawatts more are produced with no scrubbers to reduce mercury pollution — the stuff that settles in the Potomac River and taints its fish. Seventy percent of America’s coal plants are more than 30 years old, and a third were built more than 40 years ago. These inefficient, dirty dinosaurs nearing the end of their lives are the most likely to close in response to regulation. In most cases, the likely substitute is natural gas — which is cheap, domestically sourced and, though not clean, far preferable to coal in environmental impact.

Even so, Republicans — and some Democrats — in Congress are eager to kneecap EPA’s efforts. The House GOP attempted to gut clean-air rules in the seven-month continuing resolution it approved last month. In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is set to get a vote next week on an amendment that would strip EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants to delay the already slow pace of regulation by stopping it for another two years.

Lawmakers should back off. Americans’ health will benefit, and, as the news from Japan, Europe and elsewhere shows, U.S. leadership is needed to discourage demand for dirty fuels outside the country as well as in. President Obama can provide such leadership only if the United States begins to provide a better example at home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Various (cleaner) power companies reiterate support for EPA toxic proposal

Something that came our way today which might be of interest… EPA will undoubtedly need support from companies such as these as it faces attack from Southern Company and other dirty power companies.


The Clean Energy Group
Clean Air Policy Initiative
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Electric Industry Can Comply with the Proposed Toxics Rule with Existing, Cost‐Effective Pollution Control
Technologies and Compliance will not Compromise the Reliability of the Electric System

Washington, D.C. – March 25, 2011 ‐ Upon our initial review, the Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative believes that EPA’s recently proposed Toxics Rule, on the whole, is balanced and reasonable. The proposal fulfills EPA’s obligations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and will establish the first national emissions standards for hazardous air
pollutants for electric utility generators. While we will continue to review the proposed rule and will be submitting comments with recommendations for the final rule, we expect compliance with the rule will promote economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation, all without compromising the reliability of our electric system.

“We appreciate EPA’s efforts to engage with the electric industry in a transparent way in order to develop an effective rule consistent with requirements of the CAA,” said Michael Bradley, Executive Director of the Clean Energy Group. “We also appreciate efforts to include several elements that allow for compliance flexibility such as the ability to average among units at a facility. This option will enable companies to implement cost‐effective compliance solutions while still ensuring the environmental benefits. We anticipate EPA’s continued engagement with stakeholders so that the final rule is legally and technically sound.”

Since 2000, the electric industry has been anticipating that EPA would regulate hazardous air pollutant emissions, and as a result, many companies have already taken steps to install control technologies that will allow them to comply with requirements of the rule on time. The technologies to control emissions at coal‐fired power plants, including mercury and hydrochloric acid, are available and cost‐effective. However, if additional time is needed to install control technologies, EPA has the authority to authorize a plant up to one additional year to comply.

“We’ve made significant investments in technology at our plants, and they are now some of the cleanest coal plants in the U.S.,” said Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Service Enterprise Group. “The work we did reduced hazardous air pollutants and even stimulated important economic activity. We can move forward with
this rule without compromising the reliability of the electric system.”

“We recently completed the installation of a major air quality control system, including scrubbers, a baghouse, and other equipment at one of our major coal facilities in Maryland,” said Mayo Shattuck, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation Energy Group. “Construction took 26 months, employing nearly 1,400 skilled workers. Our new system is not only reducing our SO2 and NOx emissions in compliance with state and federal requirements, but is already helping us to achieve the other emission reductions that we anticipate will be required under the Toxics Rule.”

Many companies are already making plant retirement decisions independent of the Toxics Rule due to fundamental economics related to lower electricity demand and lower natural gas prices.

“The electric industry has a proven track record of adding generating capacity and transmission solutions when and where needed and coordinating effectively to address reliability concerns,” said Jack Fusco, President and Chief Executive Officer of Calpine Corporation. “In addition, existing natural gas‐fired power plants have significant unutilized power production capacity to help meet demand as owners elect to retire plants or schedule outages to install pollution control systems, thereby easing reliability concerns.”

We look forward to working with EPA during the public comment period to ensure the timely finalization of this important rule as well as its effective implementation.

The Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative is a coalition of electric power companies dedicated to responsible energy and environmental stewardship. The member companies are some of the nation’s largest generators of electricity, with over 170,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity (including 110,000 megawatts of fossil
generating capacity) throughout the U.S., and serve nearly a fifth of all U.S. electric customers. The members include Austin Energy, Avista Corporation, Calpine Corporation, Constellation Energy, Exelon Corporation, National Grid, New York Power Authority, NextEra Energy, PG&E Corporation, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., and Seattle City Light.

CONTACT
Michael J. Bradley
M.J. Bradley & Associates LLC
(978) 369‐5533
mbradley@mjbradley.com
Elie Jacobs
Sloane & Company
(212) 446‐1874
ejacobs@sloanepr.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

EPA science advisers call once again for tougher national smog standard

From a letter from EPA's Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:

While we are concerned that EPA’s most recent request for additional CASAC advice is redundant with our past reviews, we nonetheless are pleased for the opportunity to reaffirm our previous advice and we are submitting this letter and the attached consensus advice to further assist EPA as it takes action following this additional scientific input from CASAC.

Here we reaffirm that the evidence from controlled human and epidemiological studies strongly supports the selection of a new primary ozone standard within the 60 – 70 ppb range for an 8-hour averaging time...

As you give consideration to the revision of the NAAQS, we offer the following summary of findings in the evidence available through 2006:
• The evidence available on dose-response for effects of ozone shows associations extending to levels within the range of exposures currently experienced in the United States.
• There is scientific certainty that 6.6-hour exposures with exercise of young, healthy, nonsmoking adult volunteers to concentrations ≥ 80 ppb cause clinically relevant decrements of lung function.
• Some healthy individuals have been shown to have clinically relevant responses, even at 60 ppb.
• Since the majority of clinical studies involve young, healthy adult populations, less is known about health effects in such potentially ozone sensitive populations as the elderly, children and those with cardiopulmonary disease. For these susceptible groups, decrements in lung function may be greater than in the healthy volunteers and are likely
to have a greater clinical significance.
• Children and adults with asthma are at increased risk of acute exacerbations on or shortly after days when elevated ozone concentrations occur even when exposures don't exceed the NAAQS concentration of 75 ppb.
• Large segments of the population falls into what EPA terms a “sensitive population group,’’ i.e., those at increased risk because they are more intrinsically susceptible (children, the elderly, and individuals with chronic lung disease) and those who are more vulnerable due to increased exposure because they work outside or live in areas that are more polluted than the mean levels in their communities.
• CASAC unanimously reaffirms its support for the previously recommended selection of an 8-hour average ozone NAAQS within the range proposed by EPA (60 to 70 ppb).

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."

Cap and trade dealt setback in CA

from The New York Times:

California Judge Calls Time Out for Climate Change Law
By FELICITY BARRINGER

Irony usually speaks for itself, so I’ll tread lightly here. But what is one to make of a climate-change law that withstands a $35 million campaign supported by conservative oil interests only to be thrown off course by a legal challenge from the leftier edges of the environmental movement, particularly its environmental justice wing?

And what to make of a court opinion that awards a partial victory to these groups — relying not on a finding of environmental injustice but rather on a determination that the state of California failed to engage in a crucial economic debate about policy alternatives?

Last week’s decision by Judge Ernest A. Goldsmith of state superior court in San Francisco offers a second look at some of the arguments being made against A.B. 32, the state climate-change law passed in Sacramento in 2006. A few Democrats, particularly those representing poorer industrial areas, were deeply suspicious of cap-and-trade policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that their constituents would be hurt when a local polluter simply paid for pollution allowances rather than cutting back on the pollution itself...

Much of the case advanced by opponents of the climate-change law like the so-called Association of Irritated Residents, the West County Toxics Coalition and the Society for Positive Action, consisted of arguments that the California Air Resources Board demanded too little of the polluters, not too much.

Too little to curb agricultural air pollution, which disproportionately affects Hispanic workers in the central valley, they argued. Too little about industrial pollution in areas like Wilmington, near Los Angeles, or in Richmond, north of Oakland. Too little in the way of direct requirements, and too much in the way of market-oriented mechanisms.

These arguments did not seem to impress Judge Goldsmith. But the groups had another arrow in their quivers.

What he did find compelling was the contention that regulators from the California Air Resources Board were too enamored of cap-and-trade policy, which issues allowances to the polluting sectors equal to a preset emissions ceiling and then allows companies to trade them as needed.

The Scoping Plan, a central document in the reams of paper underpinning of the final rules adopted last December, gave short shrift to anything other than cap and trade, the judge ruled.

In faulting the Air Resources Board’s consideration of alternatives, Judge Goldstein sounded like a teacher saying that a student had neglected one essay test question almost entirely:
“Most notably, the scoping plan fails to provide meaningful information or discussion about the carbon fee (or carbon tax) alternative in the scant two paragraphs devoted to this important alternative. The brief 15-line reference to the carbon fee alternatives consists almost entirely of bare conclusions justifying the cap-and-trade decision. Informative analysis is absent."

More at:

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/california-judge-calls-time-out-for-climate-change-law/?scp=1&sq=California%20judge%20calls%20time-out&st=cse

Monday, March 21, 2011

NY Times editorial praises EPA power plant proposal

Long-Delayed Rules for Cleaner Air

After 20 years of delays and interminable litigation, the Obama administration has proposed a new rule requiring power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other airborne toxics by 91 percent within the next five years. Some environmental groups saw the rule as the most important step forward for healthier air since the Clean Air Act was last updated in 1990. It is unquestionably a victory for the public: when fully effective, the rule could save as many as 17,000 lives a year.

Some — but by no means all — power companies complained that the rule would impose high costs yielding relatively little payoff. So, too, did Congressional Republicans who have been on a two-month crusade to undermine the E.P.A.’s authority to regulate a whole range of pollutants, including greenhouse gases.

The numbers do not support them: The E.P.A. estimates the annual cost of compliance at $10 billion a year, compared with health benefits from reduced hospital visits and lost time on the job at $100 billion a year. Mercury and other airborne toxics like lead, arsenic and chromium can adversely affect the nervous system in children and fetuses and worsen respiratory ailments.

Nor is there merit in the argument that the technology for controlling these pollutants is not available. About one-third of all states have imposed their own rules on air toxics. In response to these rules, as well as earlier federal regulations governing other pollutants, plants with 60 percent of the country’s coal-fired capacity have already installed pollution controls that can be upgraded to meet the new standards.

The new rules bring to a close a bitter regulatory battle in which industry’s lobbying power has largely had the upper hand. President Bill Clinton waited until the end of his tenure to issue rules. They were promptly rescinded by President George Bush, whose own rules — ghost-written, in part, by industry — were thrown out of court as inadequate and inconsistent with the law.

More broadly, the new rules will help drive the power sector toward greater investments in more efficient plants and cleaner fuel sources. While many older coal-fired units can be retrofitted without great cost, some will be retired and others switched to cleaner-burning natural gas. This is something industry can afford and the nation needs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Research update: smog poses health risk below current national standard

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill working with colleagues from the Environmental Protection Agency found that breathing a level of ozone at 0.06 parts per million (ppm), which is below the current U.S. standard of 0.075 ppm, can decrease lung function in healthy young adults. Lung function is a measure of how well a person is breathing.

Moreover, this study for the first time also shows that a level of ozone below the current safety standard causes people’s airways to become inflamed. This can trigger respiratory attacks in susceptible people, including asthmatics. Increased inflammation also increases response to things to which one is allergic.




What might this study mean to parents whose children are younger than the study participants?

“Even though this study was done in healthy adults ages 19 to 35, the findings clearly have public health implications for asthmatics and others with lung disease of all ages,” said co-author David B. Peden, MD, MS, director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology. He is also professor of pediatrics and medicine, and chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, Rheumatology and Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics.

To minimize the effect of ozone, Peden said, one should be alert to forecasts of increased ozone exposure in newspapers and on local weather forecasts. This usually occurs in the summer. “If at all possible, people with asthma should not be heavily exercising outdoors in afternoons on days that ozone will be increased,” he advises. “Also, using controlled asthma medications, which are important for asthma control in general, may be especially helpful at times when ozone will be elevated.”

According to the EPA, variations in weather conditions play an important role in determining ozone levels. Ozone is more readily formed on warm, sunny days when the air is stagnant. Conversely, ozone production is more limited when it is cloudy, cool, rainy, and windy (see: http://www.epa.gov … s/ozone.html).

Peden and co-authors point out that more than 100 million people in the US now live in counties that do not meet the current ozone standard “and [the] public health consequences are enormous.”


More information: A report of the research appears online in the January issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Senator Carper praises EPA power plant cleanup proposal

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2011
Contact: Emily Spain (202) 224-2441

Sen. Carper Applauds EPA Proposal to Reduce Deadly Air Toxins and Protect Clean Air

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, released the following statement applauding the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to reduce hazardous air pollutants from uncontrolled coal and oil-fired power plants:

"Dirty coal and oil-fired power utilities spew more hazardous air pollution into our air than any other industrial source. This is air pollution we know can negatively impact our children's brain development, can cause cancer, and can even cause death. Today's proposal is a long overdue measure to start cleaning our air of deadly toxins such as mercury, arsenic, benzene, and dioxin.

"To comply with state regulations, many utilities, like the ones in Delaware, have already made investments in clean air technology that will meet these new EPA requirements. Unfortunately, over half of our coal plants still do not utilize the best clean air technology, which leaves millions of Americans at risk to the harmful effects of deadly coal air pollution. It doesn't have to be this way. We have the technology to clean up these plants so they do not jeopardize the health of millions of Americans.

"Making these clean air investments could be a win-win-win as we save thousands of lives, millions of dollars in health care costs, and we create good paying jobs here at home by manufacturing this clean air technology in the United States. Clean air regulations like today's proposal will help American companies size this opportunity to modernize their plants and ensure that all of our children have a healthy future.

"For forty years, the economic, health, and environmental benefits America has realized because of the Clean Air Act have far outweighed the costs of the initial investment. In fact, for every dollar we spend to comply with the Clean Air Act, we get thirty dollars in return in public health and economic gains. At the same time, we can create much needed jobs every year. That strikes me as a great return on our investment."

Leading energy companies praise EPA toxic power plant proposal

Washington, D.C. – March 16, 2011– A group of leading energy companies - Calpine Corporation, Constellation Energy, Exelon Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., and Seattle City Light - congratulates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on today’s release of its proposed rule to establish National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Electric Utility Generators.

This landmark rule - known as the “Toxics Rule” - will, for the first time, set federal limits for hazardous air emissions from coalfired
plants that EPA identified as posing serious health effects and harm to the environment.

For over a decade, operators of coal-fired generation have known that pollution controls would be required to comply with Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements to reduce hazardous air emissions like mercury, hydrochloric acid, and arsenic. Most of the industry has been preparing for the
rule by investing in modern pollution controls and cleaner, more efficient power plants.

“We recently completed the installation of a major air quality control system, including scrubbers, baghouse, and other equipment at one of our major coal facilities in Maryland,” said Paul Allen, senior vice president and chief environmental officer of Constellation Energy.

“These systems work effectively and result in dramatically lower emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and acid gases. We know from experience that constructing this technology can be done in a reasonable time frame, especially with good advance planning;
and there is meaningful job creation associated with the projects.”

“While we are still evaluating the rule, we believe the Toxics Rule can be achieved in a costeffective manner while maintaining the reliability of the electric system,” said Anne Hoskins, Public Service Enterprise Group’s senior vice president for public affairs and sustainability.

“The industry has had more than enough time to study and prepare for these requirements. We support the EPA’s efforts to finalize the rule in order to reap the significant public health benefits as indicated by the Agency’s analysis. There ought to be no further delay.”

The Toxics Rule will fulfill a requirement established by Congress in the 1990 amendments to the CAA to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants. EPA recently published a peerreviewed study that estimates that between 1990 and 2020, the Clean Air Act will provide over
$2 trillion in benefits and save over 2 million lives.

We look forward to working with EPA to ensure the timely final adoption of this rule as well as its effective implementation.

CONTACT
Elie Jacobs
Sloane & Company
212-446-1874
ejacobs@sloanepr.com

Clean Air Watch hails historic EPA plan to close lethal loophole for coal-burning power plants

(Washington, DC, March 16, 2011) – Here is the statement of Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch, in reaction to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal today to set mercury and other toxic pollution standards for coal-burning power plants:

This is historic -- it would end the lethal loophole that permits coal-burning power plants to spew poisonous pollution into the air.

Indeed, this is the single biggest step for public health protection that the EPA will take this year. Thousands of Americans will live longer and many millions will breathe easier as a result. Not only that, but fish will be safer to eat as toxic mercury is reduced from water bodies.

EPA would bring the dirtiest and most toxic coal power plants up to the standards of today’s cleanest plants. This would protect public health, clean up the environment – and create jobs.

Thanks to its lobbying prowess, the coal-burning power industry has escaped toxic pollution controls for more than two decades. Coal burning is the biggest source of mercury and other toxic emissions.

It is high time we closed this lethal loophole that permits coal-burning power plants to escape toxic pollution controls.

We have no doubt this is only round one of this battle, and that coal interests will continue to fight for loopholes and delays. We anticipate a smokestack smokescreen: scare tactics, including phony claims about possible blackouts.

EPA needs to stand its ground and make sure that these dirty power plants clean up ASAP.
##

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

FLANK ATTACK: McConnell anti-EPA, anti-California amendment to small business legislation

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has launched a flank attack against EPA’s greenhouse gas authority. (The McConnell plan would also prevent EPA and California from setting improved greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.)

McConnell has offered an amendment – the same one about to pass the House Energy and Commerce Committee – to small business legislation being debated by the Senate.

McConnell engaged in the same sort of demagoguery – already branded as “false” by PolitiFAct http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/03/politifact-upton-and-whitfield-make.html?spref=tw -- as House Republicans who have claimed EPA actions would increase gas prices.

This is obviously a coordinated campaign of misinformation. The facts do not support their case.

PolitiFact: Upton and Whitfield make FALSE claim about EPA and gas prices

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/mar/14/fred-upton/fred-upton-says-pending-bill-block-epa-curbs-green/

Fred Upton says pending bill to block EPA curbs of greenhouse gases will 'stop rising gas prices'

To hear Reps. Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield talk about their new energy bill, you'd think it will prevent gas prices from increasing before your next fill-up.

Upton, the Michigan Republican who chairs the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ed Whitfield, the Kentucky Republican who heads the Energy and Power subcommittee, recently argued in a letter to fellow lawmakers that one way to stop rising gas prices would be to pass the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910)...

While Upton and Whitfield's letter is carefully worded, it frames the argument for the bill in the context of today’s trend of rising gasoline prices. Yet the impact of the bill -- if there is an one -- would be years away. And there's no proof that the law would actually stop gas prices from rising. The added regulations now being planned may hamper U.S. refiners, but the international free market could just as easily end up keeping refining costs low. And it’s hardly assured that any changes in refining costs -- up or down -- will influence gasoline prices, which are subject to a wide array of influenes. We find their claim False.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lobbying heats up on EPA power plant toxic proposal

[from Politico Pro]

The utility industry has been storming the White House in an effort to sway officials as they prepare to release what could be the Obama administration's most significant environmental regulation.

Industry representatives have met with White House regulatory officials — including Chief of Staff Bill Daley — to discuss the upcoming rule on at least six separate occasions in recent weeks, according to records from the Office of Management and Budget.

The meetings come as the White House prepares to sign off on the EPA's air toxics rule for power plants.

The EPA is facing a Wednesday court deadline to issue a draft rule to curb mercury and other air toxics from utilities after a federal appeals court in 2008 ruled that the George W. Bush administration's plans to slash mercury from power plants were illegal. With the Obama EPA expected to impose a far stricter standard on the industry, power sector officials haven't been shy about telling the administration what they'd like to see.
In all, the EPA and the OMB met with industry representatives and attorneys at least six times: Feb. 28 with Exelon Corp; Feb. 28 with Ameren, Hunton & Williams, Luminant Power, Southern Company, Progress Energy and DTE Energy; March 1 with Edison International, Stuntz, Davis & Staffier and Edison Mission Energy; March 3 with PSEG, Calpine Corp., Constellation Energy, Exelon and M.J. Bradley & Associates; March 8 with Constellation Energy, NextEra Energy and Exelon Corp.; and March 10 with Anik Coal, Podesta Group, Troutman Sanders and the National Mining Association.

The rule making has attracted the attention of top White House brass, including Obama's chief of staff, Bill Daley, who attended the March 8 meeting along with the top White House regulatory official Cass Sunstein, Council on Environmental Quality No. 2 Gary Guzy and EPA air chief Gina McCarthy...

Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, is concerned that the White House is acting on behalf of industry groups to pressure EPA to water down its rules.

"We think if EPA is allowed to do an honest job, it will set very aggressive standards that will bring the worst performers out there up to the standards of the best performers," he said.

But O'Donnell said he's worried that Sunstein and other White House officials are pressuring the EPA "to rewrite the rule at the last minute" to include more "loopholes" for industries.

Environmentalists, unions and public health groups have also been flooding the White House to make their case..

Union groups including the AFL-CIO and the United Mine Workers for America have also met with the White House on the rule, as have public health groups including the American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Report: car, truck cleanup means jobs and economic benefits

this just in from the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2011

CONTACT:
Antonio Santos
202.296.4797 x108
asantos@meca.org

MECA Highlights Economic Benefits of Mobile Source Emission Control Industry

Washington, D.C. -- The Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) today released new information on the economic benefits of the mobile source emission control industry in the United States. For 2010, MECA estimates that the total economic activity associated with emission control technology on new cars and trucks in the U.S. is approximately $12 billion. In addition, MECA member companies currently account for approximately 65,000 green jobs in the U.S. These economic benefits are due in large part to the development and enforcement of important air pollution control regulations over the years by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as required by the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1970.

According to data collected by MECA, since the introduction of catalytic converters on light-duty vehicles in the U.S. in 1975 as a result of emission requirements under the 1970 CAAA, more than 500 million light-duty vehicles have been sold in the U.S. equipped with exhaust and evaporative emission control technologies. A conservative estimate for the cumulative economic activity associated with emission controls on light-duty vehicles over this time period in the U.S. is $250-300 billion. In 2010 alone, sales of U.S. light-duty vehicles (meeting strict EPA Tier 2 emission standards) totaled 11.6 million units, which generated emission control economic activity of nearly $10 billion. Globally, light-duty vehicle sales totaled 72 million units in 2010; this translates into emission control economic activity of $36-43 billion.

For heavy-duty diesel vehicles, since 2007, approximately two million heavy-duty (and medium-duty) trucks have been sold in the U.S. equipped with diesel particulate filters (for control of particulate matter) to fulfill emission requirements under EPA's heavy-duty highway rulemaking. This translates into cumulative emission control economic activity of $4-6 billion dollars in the U.S. over the 2007-2010 timeframe. Adding in the fact that the majority of trucks sold in 2010 were also equipped with selective catalytic reduction systems (for control of nitrogen oxides), medium- and heavy-duty truck sales in the U.S. in 2010 provided approximately $2 billion in economic activity related to emission control technologies.

Overall, the total emission control economic activity in the U.S. in 2010 of approximately $12 billion (light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty vehicles) is equivalent to the 2010 revenues of U.S. companies like Waste Management, Office Depot, or Kellogg -- companies that rank in the range of 185 to 200 in the Fortune 500 for 2010. The global light-duty vehicle emission control economic activity in 2010 of $36-43 billion puts the emission control industry equivalent to U.S. companies such as Apple, Walt Disney, and PepsiCo -- companies that rank in the range of 45-60 in the 2010 Fortune 500.

In terms of employment, MECA member companies currently account for approximately 65,000 green jobs in the U.S. These jobs are located in nearly every state in the U.S. -- the top 10 states are: Texas, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska -- as well as in Canada and Mexico. This employment figure does not include the tens of thousands of jobs in the automobile, truck, and engine manufacturing industries that are involved with implementing emission control technologies on today's cars and trucks.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the public health benefits associated with reducing air pollution are significantly higher than the costs of implementation. EPA's recently released report on the benefits and costs of the Clean Air Act indicates that approximately $2 trillion in benefits will be achieved in 2020 -- more than $30 in benefits for every dollar spent.

"The Clean Air Act and EPA policies have not only provided important health benefits stemming from large reductions in exhaust and evaporative emissions from mobile sources but have also created an industry with significant numbers of highly skilled jobs and a global economic reach," said MECA's Executive Director, Joseph Kubsh. "We expect this emission control economic activity to grow even more in the future as the industry continues to ramp up its efforts to meet the requirements of new and more stringent air quality standards, both in the U.S. and abroad."

The U.S. mobile source emission control program has rightly earned the reputation as one of the world's great environmental success stories. Today, emissions of harmful pollutants from new on- and off-road vehicles and equipment are a small fraction of those emitted from those made in the 1960s. As a result, the ambient air we breathe is much cleaner than it was 40 years ago. Notable emission control technologies that have contributed to this success story include catalytic converters for light-duty gasoline-fueled vehicles and diesel particulate filters for diesel-fueled vehicles. These emission control technologies have been applied to not only new engines but to in-use engines as well through the introduction of light-duty aftermarket converter programs and heavy-duty diesel retrofit programs across the U.S. Of equal importance, the technologies and strategies achieving these significant pollution reductions have contributed to a dramatic increase in fuel economy -- and, therefore, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions -- by allowing vehicle and engine manufacturers to focus on designing higher efficiency powertrains.

Founded in 1976, MECA is a national association of companies that manufacture a variety of mobile source emission control equipment for automobiles, trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles and engines, as well as stationary internal combustion engines. For more information on exhaust and evaporative emission control technologies, please visit MECA's web site at: www.meca.org.

# # #

Tales of the toxic: will "Ash" Sunstein strike again behind closed doors?

As you may recall, White House regulatory “Czar” Cass Sunstein has been credited with putting the kibosh on EPA efforts to control hazardous coal ash.

(This is one of D.C.’s dirty little secrets, as the media obsesses on partisan Republican attacks on EPA’s climate authority. Folks tend to forget that EPA has also been under attack by President Obama’s own White House.)

Sunstein was such an effective meddler -- EPA now says any controls are off the table this year -- that he’s been labeled “Ash” Sunstein. http://ashsunstein.com/

And now there are reports that “Ash” is at it again – this time as the EPA moves under a court deadline to propose toxic air pollution standards for coal-burning power plants. This is probably the single biggest air pollution decision that the Obama administration will make this year. At least for the near term. (A pending decision on national air standards for ozone, or smog, would also have major potential consequences for clean air, but probably over a longer time frame.)

If EPA is permitted to act honestly, every coal-fired power plant in America would have to clean up. If done correctly, EPA would require that the most toxic power plants be brought up to the standard of control used at the least toxic. (A number of power plants have cleaned up because of state requirements.)

EPA is under order to propose standards by March 16. As our report, “Power Poisons” noted last year, the electric power industry has evaded toxic pollution controls for more than two decades – even though it is the biggest source of toxic mercury and other poisons in the nation! http://www.cleanairwatch.org/Documents%20&%20Reports/PowerPoisons_05242010.pdf

The EPA proposal has been under review by Sunstein’s OMB office since Feb. 19. We are told, by the way, that power companies and perhaps others have been lining up around the block to meet with and try to influence Sunstein and his staff. So far, these meetings are officially a secret.

Even though OMB claims to post details of all such meetings on its website http://www.reginfo.gov/public/ , as of this morning, there is no public record of any such meeting. Why is there an appearance that Sunstein is trying to keep this all quiet?

The buzz in DC is that “Ash” is trying to bully EPA behind closed doors to make changes to its proposal before anything is made public. That he is trying to force EPA to “take comment” on alternatives to its preferred clean-up approach. For example, Sunstein reportedly wants EPA to consider a weaker requirement for control of toxic acid gases – a problem recently highlighted by our friends with the American Lung Association. http://www.lungusa.org/healthy-air/outdoor/resources/toxic-air-report/

The coal-burning power industry has evaded cleanup for decades. And there is little doubt it will continue trying. Will “Ash” be one of its tools? Stay tuned.

What's next for reactionary House attack on EPA?

from Climate Wire:

REGULATION: House bill to end EPA's climate change rules could have a short but exciting life (03/11/2011)

Dina Fine Maron, E&E reporter

House Republicans took a hammer to U.S. EPA's climate regulations yesterday, moving legislation that would prevent the Obama administration from slashing carbon emissions through smokestack limits or issuing future tailpipe standards.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee pushed through legislation sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would permanently block EPA from considering greenhouse gases in current and future regulations on large stationary sources and also stop the agency from crafting further greenhouse gas standards for vehicles.

But its future remains a row of question marks, starting with the bill's political viability in the Senate and signs that it will attract a veto from President Obama. The White House has indicated that any provision stripping EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases would not make it past the president's desk.

Several Senate Democrats were quick to issue statements yesterday decrying the vote by the House energy panel. New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) called yesterday's vote a "huge step backwards" that would "tear down critical environmental protections and put big polluters above human health." California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) said, "I will do everything in my power to stop attacks on the Clean Air Act that threaten the health of our families."

But yesterday, House Democrats did not offer any amendments that would seek to blunt the bill. Instead, Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey (D) told ClimateWire that the hearing was merely the "preview of coming attractions" before the bill goes before the full committee. Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush (Ill.) and Henry Waxman (Calif.) both indicated that amendments would be offered to the legislation when it goes to full committee.

Observers of the committee, however, suggest that any amendments seeking to significantly limit the bill would not be able to overcome opposition.

Codifying 'science denial'?

Earlier this week, Waxman said that it is a foregone conclusion the bill will pass the House (Greenwire, March 7). He predicted, however, that the bill -- which he says "codifies science denial" -- would stall in the Senate.

Illinois Rep. John Shimkus (R) yesterday said that lawmakers should not be so quick to jump to conclusions on the future of the bill. "As much as my colleagues want to say what the Senate will and will not do and what the president will and will not do, we want to give them the opportunity to weigh in on this decision," he said.

By the time such a bill reached Obama's desk, he said, "perhaps we can change his mind."

Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an advocacy group, said he doubts the bill will move through the Senate, but suggested that if a provision like the Upton legislation were attached to a spending bill, it would be a difficult decision for the president when it comes to breaking out the veto pen.

"I think it depends on what the bill looks like -- I think [the president] would have to think about it if it was part of his spending bill," agreed Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "My experience in the Clinton administration is that the president -- President Clinton -- signed some spending bills with riders he didn't like," she said.

A trade-off for a clean energy standard?

One industry lobbyist suggested that Obama would be willing to engage in some sort of trade-off to pass a "clean energy standard" (CES) and simultaneously scuttle EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases...

In the Senate, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) introduced a companion bill to Upton's legislation that is co-sponsored by Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and most Senate Republicans. Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) is also reportedly considering signing onto the bill, but clearing 60 votes is still expected to be a challenge.

Analysis of the Upton bill circulated to House committee Democrats yesterday by Waxman and Rush suggested that the legislation may have far-reaching impacts, including miring the existing motor vehicle standards in legal ambiguity and blocking California from setting its own motor vehicle standards under the Clean Air Act, since the bill would strip EPA of its ability to grant California the waivers that allow it to set its own standards.

Some Republicans, on the other hand, argued that the bill would spur rising gas prices by hampering American energy production and sending jobs overseas, allegations that Democrats called absurd because current greenhouse gas regulations on large stationary sources primarily call for consideration of energy efficiency provisions, rather than significant changes to construction plans.

Ultimately, O'Donnell was skeptical that this bill would ever be passed by Obama.

"I can't believe that President Obama would ever permit this bill to become law," he said. "If he did, he might as well demand the resignation of the head of the EPA, the head of the Council on Environmental Quality and who knows who else. It would be tantamount to saying he has no confidence in his government -- it would be inconceivable," he said.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"CSX" Ed Whitfield: we're going after the whole Clean Air Act next

from Environment and Energy Daily:

...Whitfield has said that later in the year his subcommittee will take a second look at the Clean Air Act as a whole.

"We're going to look at a lot of these regulations, because I think a lot of them have just gone by ... and the only people noticing them are those immediately impacted. But the broader society is not really focused on this," he said yesterday.

"We're not averse to going in and changing the Clean Air Act if we think it needs to be changed, and we would be happy to do that," he added.

Whitfield named several EPA rules as deserving of congressional scrutiny, including the new air transport rule, which targets sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions from power plants.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

As smog decision looms, EPA finds stronger science

From Greenwire:

Recent studies suggest that smog-filled air kills more people and causes more breathing problems than previously thought, U.S. EPA scientists say in a new draft paper, but due to a procedural twist, the findings can't be taken into account as Administrator Lisa Jackson decides whether to set stricter limits than the George W. Bush administration chose in 2008.

The new research provides stronger evidence that short-term spikes in ground-level ozone can cause premature death, according to the 996-page scientific assessment, which was released late Friday. And on top of that, EPA scientists found evidence that long-term exposure could lead to more premature deaths -- a conclusion that was not reached when the agency last reviewed the state of smog science in 2006.

It is well-established that ozone can have health effects at the current limit of 84 parts per billion (ppb), which still has not been met in parts of the Northeast, much of Southern California and industrial cities such as Houston. According to the assessment, recent studies found a robust link between health effects and smog levels below either the current limit or the standard of 75 ppb that was selected by the last administration.

Environmental and public health groups said the most recent studies show why the Obama administration should move this summer to tighten the national limits on smog even further, as EPA originally proposed doing last year (Greenwire, Jan. 7, 2010).

When the last science assessment was reviewed in 2007, groups such as the American Lung Association were already calling for a standard of 60 ppb, at the bottom of the range recommended by agency scientists.

"The new evidence I've seen has only underscored that," said Janice Nolen, the group's director of national policy.

"If the Clean Air Act really means what it says, which is 'provide protection with a margin of safety,' then 60 [ppb] is the minimum," she said in an interview. "We look at these studies, and there's clear evidence of harm to healthy adults at 60 -- then, how are you providing protection for kids with asthma? For older people? For people with lung disease? The evidence is just piling up."

But while supporters of stricter smog limits say the new assessment bolsters the Obama administration's argument, a procedural quirk is stopping Jackson from taking the latest research into account.

EPA is rethinking the George W. Bush administration's controversial 2008 decision to choose a standard of 75 ppb -- higher than the range of 60 to 70 ppb recommended by the agency's scientific advisers. The law requires a reconsideration proceeding to use the same information that was available the first time around, as EPA has said throughout the process.

The agency was required to do a new science assessment as part of a scheduled review of the ozone standards. That five-year review cycle would not wrap up until 2013 at the earliest...

In a letter to Jackson, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) accuse the agency of going against its promise not to take any advice that relies on new science. Upton and Inhofe, who have argued that tougher rules will stunt economic growth in areas that flunk the new smog limits, say the use of new research shows why EPA should wait.

"Does EPA still believe that it would be beneficial to issue a revised rule in July 2011," Upton and Inhofe wrote, "knowing that it will be based on an outdated record, and will not be based on as full and complete a review of the science as will occur in 2013?"

...
[In 2008,] It was the first time that EPA had chosen to set a standard outside the range that was advised by the science panel, and it was met with intense criticism from environmentalists.

They say people have waited long enough for standards that protect their health. Yesterday's letter from Inhofe and Upton was "a transparent attempt to throw a monkey wrench into EPA's gears," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch.

"The evidence not only confirms what we already knew -- that ozone can make us sick -- but it also strengthens the case that ozone shortens peoples' lives," O'Donnell said, referring to the new science assessment.

The new suggestion that there is a link between premature death and long-term ozone exposure will likely be the subject of substantial scrutiny in the years ahead, said Dan Greenbaum, president of the nonprofit Health Effects Institute. If such a link exists, the estimated health benefits of clearing smog -- and the value placed on regulations that do it -- could increase substantially, he said.

Though industry groups are also still combing through EPA's new assessment, the short-term exposure studies used flawed methods and the evidence on long-term exposure appears too thin to be convincing, said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.

It could be years before EPA turns the latest science assessment into policy recommendations. Right now, as the reconsideration proceeds, the agency may be avoiding a focus on the report to avoid "taking the wind out of the sails" for a final rule this summer, said Greenbaum, whose Boston-based institute was recently awarded $25 million to do air pollution research for EPA.

"In the reconsideration, they can't really cite any new studies or else they'd be challenged in court," Greenbaum said. And if there were an impression that new science could possibly lead the agency to issue a stricter standard in 2013 than it would in 2011, he added, "it could provide momentum for people to say, 'Why bother with the reconsideration?'"

Upton, Inhofe pressure EPA to delay national smog standard

I know many folks are focused on tomorrow’s expected vote in the House Energy and Power Subcommittee to handcuff EPA efforts to deal with climate change. It appears that effort is pretty much greased. (When they start discussing Mars, as one coal-state Rep. did yesterday, you know the outcome is probably preordained.)

But I do want to call your attention to another looming issue: EPA’s plan to update national clean air standards for ozone, or smog. We’ve tried to keep you apprised of developments on this – including new research which confirms that the 2008 standard set by the Bush administration is too weak to protect public health.

Industry groups, led by oil companies, are trying to throw up roadblocks and delay a final EPA decision to reconsider the bad Bush plan. (EPA, after several delays, is supposedly on track to do this by the end of July.)

And now the industry lobbies have enlisted some new allies in the form of Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). In a March 8 letter to EPA, Upton and Inhofe are clearly trying to pressure EPA to delay a decision. They raise numerous procedural and technical questions, but it’s really just a transparent attempt to throw a monkey wrench into EPA’s gears.

We believe EPA has dragged its feet too long already. It should move forward to set a standard that adequately protects public health because breathing smog can make you sick and even shorten your life.

Here is a shortened link to their letter: http://bit.ly/ejFKc7

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Toxic Air: the case for cleaning up coal-fired power plants

Our friends at the American Lung Association have released a hard-hitting new report -- Toxic Air: the Case for Cleaning Up Coal-Fired Power Plants --
about the wretched brew of poisons that spew from coal power plant smokestacks.

This toxic brew includes not only mercury and toxic metals such as arsenic, but also dangerous acid gases.

This is basically a shot across the bow at the EPA, which is under a court order to propose new power plant toxic standards next week. We hope it will remind the agency that we are watching and waiting.

Details at http://www.lungusa.org/healthy-air/outdoor/resources/toxic-air-report/

Monday, March 07, 2011

EPA scientists: new studies confirm ozone's a killer

As you probably recall, the US EPA is officially reconsidering the national smog standards set by the Bush administration in 2008. The Bush EPA rejected the unanimous view of EPA’s science advisers and set a weaker standard (75 parts per billion) than the scientists had recommended (a range of 60-70). And in January 2010, the Obama EPA proposed a new smog (ozone) health standard consistent with the views of the science advisers.

Industry groups have railed against the idea of tougher standards, and the political opposition appeared to give EPA a case of cold feet. The agency has several times postponed a final decision – much to our dismay – and has booted the issue back to the science advisers. [EPA now claims it will make a final decision by the end of July.]

The advisers, in turn, have drafted a letter reiterating their support for a standard between 60-70 parts per billion.

http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2011/03/epa-science-advisers-set-tougher-smog.html

All this has been based on a review of scientific studies through 2006.

Meanwhile, however, the EPA has continued to review the science, including post-2006 studies. And late Friday, the EPA posted its first crack at trying to make sense of the newer studies. http://1.usa.gov/gHrNaS In the jargon of the bureaucracy, this is the first draft of EPA’s “Integrated Science Assessment.”

This new report strengthens the case for a tougher smog standard than the more industry-friendly one issued by the Bush administration. This report confirms that exposure to ozone clearly sends children and adults to hospital emergency rooms. It strengthens the case that ozone can kill. [See chapter 2 of the draft]

EPA’s online summary notes that:

New material has been included in this draft, but many of the overall conclusions remain generally the same as the last NAAQS review which was completed in 2008. For example, in relation to short-term exposures, new evidence for O3-induced health effects strengthens the body of evidence for associations with premature mortality and respiratory morbidity. Also, the current ambient O3 concentrations in many areas of the US are sufficient to impair growth of numerous plant species.


Industry opponents of tougher smog standards will not like the scientific results, though they will probably now argue that EPA should delay any change in the ozone standard until it completes action on the new ozone review – something not scheduled before 2014. As the lawyers sometimes advise, if you are losing on the substance, argue process.

Friday, March 04, 2011

EPA science advisers: set a tougher smog standard already!

Most of the environmental press has been focused, understandably, on the attempts in Congress to submarine the EPA's authority to limit greenhouse gases.

But there are other big issues pending, including an EPA proposal to set a tougher national health standard for ozone, or smog. You will recall that the EPA proposed in January 2010 to set a standard within the range recommended unanimously by EPA's science advisers.

But (we think) because of fierce industry opposition and the changing political atmosphere, EPA has repeatedly delayed a final decision, and has bucked the issue back to the science advisers.

And the science advisers appear to be getting just a mite testy over all this, because the science related to this decision hasn't changed.

In a draft letter http://bit.ly/hLPgpu the scientists reiterate their support for a new national ozone standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion. The letter also says this additional advice seems "redundant" since the scientists twice before had urged the agency to set a standard within that range. (You will recall that the Bush administration ignored that unanimous advice and set a weaker standard, which EPA technically is reconsidering.)

Maybe the EPA will finally get moving and do the right thing to protect our health. After all, ozone not only can make us sick, but it can actually shorten our lives.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

And now a few words from the good guys

FOR RELEASE: March 3, 2011
CONTACT: Emily Spain (Carper): 202-420-1160

Sens. Carper, Boxer and EPW Colleagues' Statement
on Inhofe/Upton Bill that Would Permanently Block
Protections from Carbon Pollution
Legislation would put public health of children and families at risk

WASHINGTON – Today Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other EPW Committee members released the following statement in response to a bill introduced today by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) in the House that would hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to implement the Clean Air Act and permanently block the agency from curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. The Inhofe-Upton bill would block EPA from complying with the U.S. Supreme Court's direction to address carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, said: "The legislation introduced today is short-sighted and politically driven, and would be harmful to the health and well-being of all Americans. I respectfully disagree with the approach taken by some of my House and Senate colleagues to deny the EPA the ability to protect American's health by regulating harmful carbon air pollution emissions. This debate is about whether we are we going to be guided by decades of science from thousands of respected scientists and seize this opportunity to lead the world in the emerging clean energy economy, or are we going to turn our back on the science and wait on the sidelines. The EPA's clean air programs have repeatedly shown huge returns for the investment in lives saved, reduced health care costs, and clean energy jobs. I believe a responsible approach to regulating carbon pollution will yield similar benefits for public health and our economic bottom line and that's what we should focus on moving forward."

Senator Boxer said: "This bill is an assault on the Clean Air Act and threatens the health and well-being of all Americans. One of EPA's core missions is to protect children and families from dangerous air pollution, and it is irresponsible to prevent EPA from holding major industrial polluters accountable. As recent polls have shown, including one by the American Lung Association, this bill is out of step with the American public who strongly support environmental safeguards."

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chair of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, said: "These attacks on the Clean Air Act will take us back to a time when public health took a backseat to big polluters. EPA must be allowed to follow the advice of its scientists and set air pollution standards that protect our health and the health of our children."

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, said: "Scientists, citizens, and even the Supreme Court have spoken: EPA should regulate air pollution and safeguard human health. This legislation is a direct assault on the Clean Air Act, and I will fight it with every legislative tool available."

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Chair of the Subcommittee on Children's Health and Environmental Responsibility, said: "It's simple -- this bill would undermine the Clean Air Act in order to protect polluters, not people. The Supreme Court and the best climate science compelled the Environmental Protection Agency to act and protect the health and welfare of our citizens. Legislation to derail that effort is highly misguided."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said: "We need strong protections for the air we breathe and the water we drink. These extreme attacks on the Clean Air Act protect polluters while putting the public health at risk. There is overwhelming, nationwide support for the Clean Air Act. This assault on our environmental protections moves us in the wrong direction."

Background:
As required by law, EPA is working to reduce air pollution by setting out a modest, incremental and flexible plan for the largest polluters in the country, which will improve the health of American families and children. In its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court said:

"Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant,' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gasses..."

EPA's long history of successfully implementing the Clean Air Act was reflected in a recent report showing that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature deaths in the year 2010 alone. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 230,000 premature deaths. EPA also reports that the number of asthma attacks prevented by Clean Air Act programs is expected to increase from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in the next decade. Exposure to air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, lost days at school and work, emergency room visits, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and premature deaths.

Refiners take aim against tougher smog standard

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed changes to federal standards regulating ozone could inflict serious harm on America’s economy, job growth and consumers, said Gregory Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, in a statement today to an EPA advisory panel.

“The proposed NAAQS for ozone will have a great, and potentially very negative, impact on the nation’s economy and whether the current economy rebound can be sustained,” Scott said. “It will have a great, and again potentially very negative, impact on the prospects for job creation and retention over the next decade. And its impact on American citizens – the motorists, truckers, farmers and families that drive our great nation – will be felt for years to come.”

Scott’s statement to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s Ozone Review Panel was given during a teleconference held as the panel considers proposed revisions to the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone.

“Air quality is improving and risks are declining without a change to the Ozone NAAQS,” Scott said. “Cleaner fuels and cleaner facilities are contributing to this trend and will continue to do so in the future as current programs are fully implemented.”

“The current ozone NAAQS standard and many existing continuing air quality improvement programs are working and will continue to protect public health in the future.”

EPA typically reviews federal air quality regulations every five years, as required by the Clean Air Act. Although the current standard for ozone was established in 2008, EPA is expected to issue changes to the standard this July.

“I urge you to undertake your work cautiously and with full knowledge that the advice you provide to the EPA administrator will impact the lives, livelihoods, jobs and futures of hundreds of millions of Americans across the nation,” Scott told the panel.

SOURCE National Petrochemical & Refiners Association

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sen. Carper at EPA budget hearing: funding diesel cleanup is no-brainer

FOR RELEASE: Mar. 2, 2011
CONTACT: Emily Spain (202) 224-2441

COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS

HEARING: “Environmental Protection Agency’s FY2012 Proposed Budget”

Statement of Senator Thomas R. Carper

“I support the investments made in the President’s budget to promote cleaner air, healthier communities and healthier schools for our children and grandchildren. As we have seen in recent EPA reports, investments in cleaning up our air saves thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in health care costs. However, I was deeply disappointed to see funding eliminated for one of EPA’s most successful programs, the life-saving Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). This recently reauthorized program is a bipartisan, common-sense approach to cutting toxic diesel emissions that threaten the lives of our communities and our children.

“Every day, millions of children ride a school bus to school – and many of those buses have dirty diesel engines. Meaning every day, our children are exposed to toxic fumes that contribute to serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, even death. Diesel emissions are also a potent global warming agent - reducing diesel emissions may be one of the most significant actions we can take in the short term to address global warming.

“Clean diesel engines made today are reaching near zero emissions, but that does nothing for the millions of engines already in use and will be in use for the next 20 years. By retrofitting or replacing dirty diesel engines – like those on the school buses that take our children to school every day – the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act saves lives and creates a demand for clean diesel technology, which in turn creates American jobs.

“While I understand that the President's budget requires many unpopular, tough cuts, I do not understand cutting DERA, which has shown a consistent high return on its investment, for every $1 invested, we get over $13 in health and economic benefits in return. Funding DERA is a no brainer and I will work with the Administration and my colleagues to find ways to fund this effective program.”