Monday, February 06, 2017

Republicans for air pollution

For a list of house members who are co-sponsors (currently 116), see the following link

Repeal without replace: a dangerous GOP strategy on Obamacare and climate
Posted on 6 February 2017 by dana1981

House Republicans have introduced a bill to rewrite the Clean Air Act. The bill, which has 114 co-sponsors (all Republicans), would revise the Clean Air Act such that:

The term ‘air pollutant’ does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.

This change would kill the EPA regulation of carbon pollution that’s a key component of the Clean Power Plan.


Enter the “Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017.” As noted above, the bill would simply revise the Clean Air Act to state that greenhouse gases aren’t air pollutants. The bill states that nothing in the Clean Air Act any other law “authorizes or requires the regulation of climate change or global warming.” It notes that the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions standards would be voided. Finally, the bill includes this dangerous provision:

No regulation, rule, or policy described in subsection (a) shall take effect if the regulation, rule, or policy has a negative impact on employment in the United States unless the regulation, rule, or policy is approved by Congress and signed by the President.

In other words, if the EPA were to determine that any sort of pollution was endangering or killing people, but the proposed regulation of that pollutant would result in the loss of a few jobs, EPA would not be allowed issue that regulation. Republicans in Congress – and any members who vote for this bill – are explicitly stating that employment is more important than human and environmental health.

There’s a similar bill with 160 Republican co-sponsors: the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. It says that any regulation with compliance costs over $100 million per year would require approval by both the House and Senate. If either failed to pass the regulation within 70 days, it would be null and void. Again, if a regulatory agency with expert staffers were to decide that a regulation were necessary to protect public health and safety, but politicians in Congress declined to vote in support of the regulation, it wouldn’t be implemented.
Fortunately, these bills face long odds

So far the “Stopping EPA” bill has been assigned to four House committees, and at least three of those have no plans as of yet to take up the bill. Similarly, the REINS Act has been assigned to four House committees, but likely isn’t viewed as a high priority either.


Were the “Stopping EPA” bill to make it through Congress and be signed by the President, there likely wouldn’t be any legal recourse, since it explicitly rewrites the Clean Air Act. However, Senate Democrats have the ability to block these bills, which likely explains why the House Committees don’t view them as a priority.


It’s worth noting that of the 240 Republican members of the House of Representatives, 114 co-sponsored the “Stopping EPA” bill, and 160 co-sponsored the REINS Act. In short, half to two-thirds of House Republicans think that protecting public and environmental health and safety may not be worth 0.003% of US annual federal spending, or losing a few jobs, and that they – not scientific experts – should be the ones to make those decisions.

It’s also important to note that as with Obamacare, Republicans are trying to repeal existing regulations without first agreeing on a replacement. They could certainly replace EPA climate regulations with a revenue-neutral carbon tax: a policy that many conservatives support. That would be a worthwhile effort. But simply repealing the only regulations America has in place to tackle the threat of human-caused climate change would be dangerous and irresponsible. The Republican Party needs to do much better than this.

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