Oct. 6, 2011: Floor Statement on GOP anti-health, anti-enviornment legislation

Floor Statement – General Debate
H.R. 2681, Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
H.R. 2250, EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
October 6, 2011
 
 
 

 

These bills represent a toxic assault that compromises public health for polluter wealth.
 
Republicans are continuing their war on the environment, with episode 37 of the Clean Air Act “repeal-a-thon”.
 
It is a tried and true 3-part Republican strategy:
 
First, pass legislation that repeals regulations that have already been set;
 
Second, indefinitely delay new regulations from ever being set;
 
And third, just for good measure, include a provision that eviscerates the very underpinnings of effective federal law and deters any effort to protect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Make no mistake. That is what we are doing here this week.
 
These bills block and indefinitely delay implementation of the rules that would reduce hazardous air pollution, such as mercury, lead and cancer-causing substances released from cement kilns and industrial boilers -- and do so in callous disregard for adverse impacts these pollutants have on public health, particularly the heath of infants and children.
 
Republicans have decided to stage their own public event today on the floor: “Occupy Stall Street”.
 
But lest you think that Republicans always want to delay regulations, it turns out that sometimes they want to speed up the wheels.

Republicans voted to tell EPA to hurry up and make decisions to issue air permits for drilling rigs off the pristine coast of Alaska.
 
Republicans also have voted to give the Department of Interior a mere 30 days to approve permit applications for drilling in the Gulf at the same time they block legislation to implement any drilling reforms in the wake of the BP disaster.
 
And they’ve also voted to reduce the time allowed for environmental review so that the State Department would approve the Keystone pipeline as soon as possible.
 
But when it comes to regulations that would decrease the amount of toxic pollutants in our air or water, apparently the same federal agencies that evaluate hazardous pollutants in the first place just need more time to review the science.
 
More time to understand the technologies.
 
More time before doing anything to make our water safer to drink, make our air safer to breathe and protect the health of children around the country.
 
And it also turns out that Republicans don’t always turn a blind eye towards the health effects of toxic chemicals.
 
Three months ago, as our country stood on the edge of default due to Tea-Party brinkmanship, House Republicans chose to vigorously debate a bill to ban compact fluorescent light bulbs.
 
During that debate Republicans repeatedly told us that the mercury vapor from those light bulbs is dangerous and that “Exposing our citizens to the harmful effects of the mercury contained in CFL light bulbs, is likely to pose a hazard for years to come.”
 
Yet the bills considered today would result in nearly 16,600 pounds of extra mercury vapors being released directly into the air. And that’s just in one year.
 
That is equivalent to two and a half BILLION compact fluorescent light-bulbs.
 
And the mercury released as a result of these bills is not the kind you can sweep off the living room floor or throw into a trash can. This is mercury released directly into the air we all breathe, and finds its way into the food we eat.
 
If the regulation to remove mercury from cement plants – which is already 13-years overdue -- is delayed for even one year, up to 2,500 people will die prematurely, there will be 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 1,500 people will suffer heart attacks
 
If the regulation to remove mercury, lead, and cancer-causing toxins from incinerators and industrial boilers – which is already 11-years overdue -- is delayed for even one year, there will be 6,600 people who will die prematurely and people will miss 320,000 days of work and school.
 
The Republicans are presenting yet another false choice to the American people:
 
We do not have to choose between manufacturing and mercury.
 
We do not have to choose between concrete and cancer.