Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Quick Update: House Panel Approves Polluter Plan to Radically Weaken Clean Air Act

A quick update to our most recent post:

Today, in a party-line vote, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation that would radically weaken the Clean Air Act in order to save money for the oil industry and other polluters.  It was painful to watch this live.

Among other things, this bill, sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) would:

--Demand that the federal government mislead the public about dangerous air pollution.
--Overturn a Supreme Court ruling -- unanimous and written by Scalia, no less! -- which held that national air quality standards should be based only on health science, not cost or "feasibility."
--Grant amnesty to new sources of pollution (how do you spell "fracking") in polluted areas.
--Subject the breathing public to added years of dirty air.
--Ignore public health protect from dirty air when the air is "stagnant."
--Delay scientific reviews of existing air pollution standards.

To sum it up: the oil industry and other big polluters are trying to pay Congress off to get industry off the hook and relieve it of the responsibility of cleaning up. And industry wants to take away the public's right to know if the air is actually clean -- or not.

The legislation is expected next to head to the full House of Representatives, where it likely will be rammed through as it was here.  Anyone at the White House ready to talk veto yet?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Olson Thanks Koch for Advice and Support on Smoggy Skies Bill


[Of course, this is a spoof, but…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) publicly thanked Koch Industries for its advice and generous financial support as the House Energy and Power subcommittee acted to move his bill H.R. 4775, The Smoggy Skies Act, to the next step in the legislative process.

The bill would permanently undermine the Clean Air Act as a public health law in the interest of saving money for the financially strapped oil industry and other corporate contributors.

Among many other things, the bill would demand that the federal government lie to the public about when dirty air is dangerous.  It would reverse a landmark Supreme Court decision. And it would legalize dirty-air days when the air is “stagnant.”

“My lobbyist friends were VERY clever in writing this up,” Olson observed. “Particular thanks go to my benefactors at Koch Industries and their guiding lobbyists. Koch has not only given me a generous stipend of $5,000 so far this election cycle, it has sprinkled an additional $79,500 this cycle among other Republican members of the subcommittee who voted for this legislation. I assure those few colleagues of mine left out that you will be taken care of.”

Monday, May 09, 2016

Disappointing (Except, Perhaps, to VW): EPA Wants to Scale Back Monitoring for Car and Truck Pollution

This is terribly disappointing news.

The US EPA has very quietly proposed scaling back efforts to monitor car and truck pollution near roadways.  The pollution at issue is nitrogen dioxide — the very sort of emissions at the center of the Volkswagen scandal.  

EPA has proposed to reverse plans to monitor for the pollutant near roadways of cities between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people

EPA had promised in 2010 to beef up the monitoring as part of a plan to update national air quality standards for the pollutant, which comes from, among other things, cars, trucks and coal-burning. The beefed-up monitoring was one of EPA’s biggest selling points in an otherwise lackluster decision.

EPA is claiming now that preliminary monitoring at bigger cities shows these additional monitors aren’t needed.

HOWEVER:  There is increasing evidence that nitrogen dioxide is more dangerous that previously acknowledged.  Even the EPA recently admitted

There is now stronger evidence for a relationship between long-term exposure to NO2 and respiratory effects, particularly the development of asthma in children. Results suggest that short-term exposure to NO2 may be associated with cardiovascular effects and premature mortality and that long-term exposure may be associated with cardiovascular effects, diabetes, poorer birth outcomes, premature mortality, and cancer

Well, if you don’t look for a problem, you won’t find it.  Volkswagen might like this news. But we expect something better from EPA.