American Lung Association Calls on Senate to Reject Extreme Measure Blocking Limits on Methane Leaks, Putting Americans’ Health At Risk Now and Into Future
Use of Congressional Review Act could permanently block this and similar clean air protections
(February 3, 2017) - WASHINGTON, D.C.
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Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Congressional Review Act resolution that would block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, a clean air safeguard that will reduce dangerous methane leaks from the oil and gas industry. In response, Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, issued the following statement:
"It is deeply disappointing that the House voted to block an important clean air safeguard that would reduce methane leakage. Methane is a potent driver of climate change. Now is the time to take action to address climate change to protect our health – not permanently block such action.
"Not only do we strongly disagree with the decision to block this action, the House's use of the Congressional Review Act greatly alarms us. Today's action would not only block current actions to reduce methane emissions, it would also prevent BLM from moving forward with substantially similar actions in the future. The Congressional Review Act is an extreme tool that allows the House and Senate to permanently wipe federal rules from the books with simple majority votes, and that means wiping current and blocking similar health protection rules in the future. Using this blunt instrument to overturn important federal safeguards, which have gone through ample review and feedback, is irresponsible and puts the health of Americans at risk. When it comes to our health, Congress must not use this sledgehammer.
"Oil and gas wells and pipelines not only leak methane, they also leak volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include gases recognized as hazardous air pollutants. VOCs include toxics like benzene, a known human carcinogen, and toluene, a neurotoxin that affects the nervous system and has been linked to miscarriages and birth defects. VOCs are also key ingredients in the formation of ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant that causes asthma attacks and premature deaths. Reducing methane emissions also reduces emissions of these life-threatening substances into the air we all breathe.
"Reducing methane leakage is also critical in our fight against climate change. Methane is extremely effective at retaining heat, fostering the warmer temperatures that have brought us longer and hotter heat waves, increased risk of wildfires and drought, and greater risk of ground-level ozone formation. Increased ozone pollution, and particle pollution from wildfire smoke, contribute to asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and premature death.
"If this Congressional Review Act resolution passes the U.S. Senate and becomes law, it will have dangerous consequences for the futures of our children. We strongly urge the Senate to save our lungs and vote down this attack on public health."
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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