Sept. 22, 2011: Markey speaks out against GOP assault on Clean Air Act

Floor of US House of Representatives
H.R. 2401, TRAIN Act
Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011

I rise in opposition to the TRAIN Act – the Total Regulatory Amnesty for Industry Negligence Act whose very premise is that it’s simply impossible to keep our air clean and still keep our economic engine chugging along.

This Republican led House has initiated a full throttle “repeal-a-thon” that denies science, delays regulations, and deters efforts to protect the health and security of millions of Americans.

We keep hearing from Republicans about how EPA’s clean air standards to reduce mercury, lead, dioxins and other pollutants need to be economically analyzed and re-analyzed.

They insist that even if a standard for one toxic chemical was met by an entire industrial sector, the removal of just one more poisonous chemical would cause a domino effect of problems for industry, from loss of domestic manufacturing capacity to job loss to loss of electric reliability.

And the solution to these supposed problems? It’s a time tested Republican tradition.

First, pass legislation that repeals regulations that have already been set.

Second, require endless study of the cumulative impacts of all regulations on all industries.

And finally, just for good measure, pass an amendment that guts the very underpinnings of the Clean Air Act. Make no mistake, that is what we are doing here today.

Our planet is warming and extreme weather is increasing.  We’re having record 100-year floods every few years.  Hurricanes have caused floods, massive power outages and deaths.  Texas is on fire after having the warmest summer ever recorded by any state. The President has issued disaster declarations in 48 States so far this year. We have set an all-time high of 83 major disasters declared in 2011. We’ve already had 10 weather events causing $1 billion or more in damages, another record. And we still have 3 months of the year still left to go.

But rather than save money by cutting the hundreds of billions we spend on our nuclear weapons arsenal because we know we don’t need to build any more nuclear weapons, the Tea Party chooses to cut funds that would reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Rather than cutting the tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies we give to Big Oil and Coal - the Republicans gut programs that would manufacture energy efficient cars in America and provide clean air. Republicans would have us pay for the costs of weather disasters caused by global warming by cutting off funding for a program that reduces the very threat of global warming.

But for all the talk of this so-called “TRAIN wreck of cumulative EPA regulations,” there seems to be one “cumulative effect” that isn’t getting mentioned by Republicans. Perhaps it’s because in doing the bidding of corporations, they have lost their train of thought.

If the regulation to remove mercury from cement plants-- already 13-years overdue-- is delayed for even one year, up to 2,500 people will prematurely die, 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-- already 11-years overdue-- is delayed for even one year, there will be 6,600 people who will prematurely die and 320,000 days when people will miss work and school.

Additionally, if this bill is passed it would repeal mercury and cross-state air pollution rules for power plants resulting in the loss of 25,300 lives, more than 11,000 heart attacks and more than 12,000 hospital visits. And that’s just with one year of delay.
So what’s the cumulative impact of just one year of delay of each of these regulations? 34,400 people will die.  And many more will be injured.

In discussing these Republican efforts, earlier today EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as finding the cure for cancer in our country.” The difference is we already know how to reduce particulate matter. It’s a cure that already exists. Republicans would have us ignore that cure.

The Republicans are providing the American people with a false choice.

We do not have to choose between air quality and air conditioning.

We do not have to choose between manufacturing and mercury.  

We do not have to choose between clean air and cancer.

Ending protections for clean air and clean water should be a third rail issue, but the Republican Tea Party Express has veered off onto the far right track. Sadly, these are just the kind of anti-innovation, anti-science and anti-public health schemes the public has come to fear from this legislative wrecking crew.

When the Majority calls you to come “all aboard”, I urge you to run in the opposite direction, because the only train Republicans’ seem to care about is the Big Oil and Big Coal Gravy Train.