Congress Must Not Impede EPA’s Ability to Protect Public Health

American Lung Association urges Congress to support cleanup of toxic pollution

Washington, D.C. (April 15, 2011)

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

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing today on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rules to protect public health from air pollution generated by power plants, industrial boilers and cement plants. Press reports indicate the Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) is preparing legislation to delay the implementation of lifesaving air toxics standards. The Lung Association is urging members of Congress to reject efforts that delay health protections and weaken the Clean Air Act.

Last month, the American Lung Association released a report Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants documenting the significant risks posed by toxic pollution from power plants. The EPA toxics rules on power plants, industrial boilers and cement plants protect the public from mercury, arsenic, lead, acid gases and other air toxics and will prevent 26,000 premature deaths each year and more than 175,000 asthma attacks. Millions of Americans—including children, seniors, and people with chronic disease such as asthma—cannot afford to wait any longer for healthier air.

The American Lung Association recently released a bipartisan poll that found 79 percent of voters support stricter limits on the amount of mercury that power plants and other industrial facilities can release; 68 percent feel that Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards; and 69 percent believe that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards.

Proposals to delay toxic cleanup clearly demonstrates that members of Congress are out of touch with the interests of the American public. Blocking the cleanup of toxic mercury, arsenic, lead and particle pollution could have dire consequences for all Americans, as these air toxics are linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.

Forty years of evidence show that the health benefits of the Clean Air Act come without harm to the economy. Since 1970, the Clean Air Act has cut emissions by more than 60 percent, all while the economy has grown by more than 200 percent. It is estimated that in 2020, the Clean Air Act Amendments will annually prevent over 230,000 early deaths and provide $2 trillion in economic benefits. The nation needs robust enforcement of its clean air laws.

Americans enjoy these health protections because Congressional leaders of both parties worked together to create the Clean Air Act. We urge Congress to protect this lifesaving law and reject legislation that will allow more toxic air pollution in communities.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org.

 

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