Home > Legislation, Science > Dirty Air Act (TRAIN) Passes the House?

Dirty Air Act (TRAIN) Passes the House?

September 24th, 2011

From Huffington Post:

The U.S. House of Representatives forwarded a bill on Friday that environmental leaders warn would undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb air pollution and protect public health. Green groups are now urging the Senate and President Barack Obama to stand strong — and avoid a repeat of recent environmental health failures, such as the shelving of proposed ozone and greenhouse gas standards.

“The Tea Party House has passed, with ease, the most radical dirty-air legislation in the history of this country,” John Walke, the clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told HuffPost. “It absolutely eviscerates the legal standards for adopting emissions limits under the Clean Air Act.”

Introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.), the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act would create a special committee to oversee the EPA’s rules and regulations, and require the agency to consider economic impacts on polluters when it sets standards concerning how much air pollution is too much. For the last 41 years, since passage of the Clean Air Act, only scientific and medical considerations have been allowed in that analysis.

“This results in lying to the American people about whether the air is healthy or not,” said Walke.

The TRAIN Act would also repeal or block new and pending clean air safeguards, from standards that would curb mercury emissions from power plants to limits on pollution that travels across state lines. According to EPA estimates, such measures would save 140,000 lives over the five or more years of proposed delays.

This sounds like dreadful legislation.  So now clean air is going to be held political hostage?  The American Lung Association sent out its Coughing Baby Red Carriage Cards to every member of Congress this week in addition to peppering the TV commercial sites with that annoying commercial.  It got my attention.

 

As annoying as that commercial is, it caught my attention as I am sure it caught yours.  Congress does need to listen up.  Why on earth to we want to weaken the Clean Air Act?  If nothing else, it should be strengthened.  Remember our athletes getting off the plane in Beijing?  They had to wear masks.  Many other countries have terrible air quality that endangers the lives of residents daily. 

Most members of Congress don’t have the scientific background to know good air from bad.  They will block vote to appease their constituents and tell them all that they are growing the economy or saving jobs.  I would like to keep important decisions like clean air in the hands of the experts, not the politicians. 

I have enough problems in this department personally as it is without entrusting my ability to breathe on some stupid congressman who wants to good old boy with his base. 

Categories: Legislation, Science Tags: ,
  1. Kelly3406
    September 24th, 2011 at 10:19 | #1

    I think it is time to rein in the EPA. This fight is all about changing standards due to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). If the warming does not materialize, then the costly measures pushed by the EPA will have succeeded only in keeping the unemployment rate very high.

  2. September 24th, 2011 at 13:13 | #2

    Who do you want reining it in and making scientific decisions.

    EPA covers a whole lot more than global warming.

  3. Clinton S. Long
    September 24th, 2011 at 15:39 | #3

    I just read the bill in question. Although there are parts I don’t like that could impact pollution (not a scientist so I don’t really know), there are parts that I don’t find objectionable.

    First, this committee sole purpose is to provide a report. It is to be comprised of people appointed by the President and none by Congress. For the most part, these appointees are cabinet secretaries or their designees.

    As I read the bill, the report is supposed to review the regulations both final and proposed before January 2012 and report on the cumulative effects of the regulations on the effect of the global competitiveness of the US as a result of the regulations.

    I am not opposed to agencies to at least look at the economic effects of their regulations. Most agencies have to do that, even when doing safety regulations. Just because there may be a economic impact does not mean that the regulation is rejected. For the most part it is just a line in the Federal register about the economic impact as a reported item.

    Sure it provides some ammo for criticism but there would be criticism with or without the information as provided by EPA. At least, EPA would be controlling what is published about the economic impact.

    I am not one that stands up and says that what EPA is doing is wrong today. But I do believe that people should be aware of the full effects of any policy.

    After all, what if someone someday proposed to do away with an entire industry and that negative economic result but the net effect on pollution was minimal at best and could have been accommodated without destroying an industry? Shouldn’t the American people know? I do know that it is a highly hypothetical example, by the way.

    I also guess that due to my experience in Federal agencies, I know that there is usually a political influence within the agency that may or may not change the outcome of scientific study. After all, the heads and decision makers of the agencies are not generally technical people but political appointees.

    I would have been more concerned about another “blue ribbon” Congressional committee looking at the regulations rather than Presidential appointees.

    • September 24th, 2011 at 19:48 | #4

      Clinton, you have made some very good points. I am not sure where I stand on specifics. I just don’t like the idea of things that affect our health being held hostage. I am at the point of if I hear about AGW I will scream. I think it has become a cult with a pro and anti side.

  4. Kelly3406
    September 24th, 2011 at 17:18 | #5

    If scientists cannot convince a majority of the politicians and public of the merit of implementing a regulation, then it probably should not be implemented. There is always uncertainty in science, so it does not always provide unambiguous answers. I do not want an unaccountable agency to push through a new regulation based only on science without consideration of other factors such as the effects it might have on the economy. I would rather have elected officials who have to answer to voters weigh the various factors in order to make a decision.

    • September 24th, 2011 at 19:59 | #6

      Kelly, look how that worked with Galileo. And I agree. Economic impact on a smaller scale should also be taken in to consideration. I keep thinking of farmers who couldn’t get to water because of various government regulations. Then I think of what private industry would do to air and water if there were not govt regulations. Its a push me/pull me situation. Perhaps what I want to see is balance.

      My problem is, I am not a scientist so I lack the background to have some of these discussions. I expect I am not alone but not everyone easily admits they don’t have background on a subject.

  5. Clinton S. Long
    September 24th, 2011 at 20:57 | #7

    I easily admit it :)

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