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March 04, 2010

Stop the Attacks on the Clean Air Act

This is the weekly post from Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.

A Senate vote is looming on a measure that would gut the Clean Air Act, proposed by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. The resolution's passage would give big polluters a bail out by blocking President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking action to limit global warming pollution - even from the biggest polluters like coal plants and oil refineries.

Despite evidence that this measure was crafted by lobbyists who represent coal giants like Southern Company, Duke and Progress Energy, it is still gaining support in the Senate, and there are now similar measures in the House.

Major industrial facilities, including the nation's more than 500 existing coal plants, are responsible for almost 70% of our country's global warming pollution. Addressing the pollution from these sources is a key part of the big picture solution to global warming and energy independence. The agency has laid out a reasonable timeline for new regulations for these massive polluters and proposed measures that would require the biggest polluters to clean up first, so pollution would be quickly reduced without affecting smaller sources like small businesses, churches and apartment buildings.

Under EPA's common sense plan, new coal plants and other large facilities would have to install global warming pollution controls, much as they already do for other forms of pollution. Existing coal plants would have to upgrade global warming pollution controls when the rest of the facility is modified or expanded to increase emissions. Again, these processes are not new or radical. As part of the Clean Air Act, these measures have effectively helped reduce other forms of pollutions for 40 years, without killing the economy - in fact, the economic benefits of these regulations outweigh the costs by four to one, not to mention saving tens of thousands of lives.

Murkowski's assault on the Clean Air Act in order to protect polluter profits is not only ridiculous, but it is also very dangerous. Action by EPA to reduce global warming pollution will not, and in fact should not, prevent Congress from creating much needed climate legislation. And after years of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments, it makes no sense at all to tie EPA's hands and simply choose to ignore that global warming is happening now and is threatening human health and welfare. 

EPA is merely doing what the Clean Air Act already requires--and what it was ordered to do almost three years ago by the Supreme Court. The public overwhelmingly supports the move, and yet Senator Murkowski and other friends of big polluters ignore the science, the public outcry, and the unintended, far reaching damage done by gutting one of country's most effective environmental laws.

Big Coal and Oil are lining up supporters behind these efforts to gut the Clean Air Act, so we need to send a clear message that the public does not want Congress to dismantle these fundamental American environmental protections. Please join us in defending the Clean Air Act by sending a message to Congress today - just click here. You can also show your support by becoming a fan of the Clean Air Act on Facebook.


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