Lung Association Hails Bipartisan Rejection of Clean Air Rollback

Statement of Jeff Seyler, President & CEO for the American Lung Association of the Northeast

(June 20, 2012)

“Today, a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate stood up for the health of our children and rejected attempts by big polluters and their allies in Congress to rollback clean air safeguards that protect the public from toxic air pollution. Senator Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) S.J. Res. 37 was firmly rejected by a 53 to 46 vote of the Senate.

We applaud the Senate’s rejection of yet another attempt to block vitally important clean air protections. The American Lung Association is heartened to see support on both sides of the aisle in favor of protecting the health of children and families from toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and formaldehyde. With five Republican Senators and 48 of their Democratic colleagues voting against this extreme attack on public health, it is clear that the Senate is not willing to accept rollbacks of life saving clean air protections.

We are very gratified that every Senator in the Northeast region voted against this proposal.  We also specifically want to praise the four Republican Senators from our region who stood up for public health and voted against their colleagues, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). This vote helps reaffirm that healthy air is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but it is a public health issue which deserves widespread support.  We call on our entire Congressional delegation to continue to show strong support for the life-saving Clean Air Act and vote against any legislation which rollback public health protection.

Had it passed and become law, the measure would have permanently blocked the scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing safeguards that will cut toxic air pollution. The long overdue Mercury and Air Toxics Standards became final earlier this year and were developed to comply with a Congressional mandate to reduce toxic air pollution more than twenty years ago.

The EPA estimates that the Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxic Standards will prevent 130,000 childhood asthma attacks; more than 6,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children; as many as 11,000 avoidable premature deaths; and 4,700 heart attacks, annually. 

Today’s Senate action stands in stark contrast to the repeated efforts in the House of Representatives to rollback health protections. In fact, the House is expected to vote soon on yet another bill (H.R. 4480) that will gut the Clean Air Act; we call the bill, The Gutting Air Standard Protections Act or G.A.S.P. Act. 

The U.S. Senate understands that the public wants a Congress that looks out for them, not big corporate polluters.  Our children cannot afford to wait any longer for clean air. We urge the House of Representatives to follow their lead in doing what’s best for the health of the American people.”

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