By Kelsey Staberg, Sierra Club Policy Intern
Last Friday, Representatives Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz stood up to the pro-polluter majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and voted against legislation that exposes Americans to toxic mercury, and creates detrimental health problems caused by smog and pollution for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans each year.
If signed into law, the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401) will weaken the EPA’s ability to limit mercury and other air toxics from power plants under the Clean Air Act, and require the costly preparation of unncecessary and redundant reports. This legislation would also directly affect the health of the general public.
This Act would delay the EPA’s attempt to improve air quality by blocking two long-overdue rules to reduce harmful air pollution. Blocking these standards for just one more year puts up to 25,300 lives at risk due to toxic air pollution. Smog, soot, and other air toxics have a pernicious effect on Americans suffering from heart disease, asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases. The EPA estimates that the Clean Air Act rules that inhibit the emissions of air toxics and pollutants will prevent 230,000 premature deaths by the year 2020, and dramatically reduce other medical expenses.
It’s both disappointing and outrageous that a majority in the U.S. House would vote for this bill, claiming that the costs of basic pollution protections that Minnesotans have relied on for 40 years are too high, but I’m relieved to know that three members of our Minnesota delegation recognize that a healthy economy begins with healthy people.
Allowing corporations to dump toxic pollution into the air we breathe will not lead to economic recovery. I commend President Obama for his vow to veto this bill, and urge Senators Klobuchar and Franken to also reject the House’s most dangerous attack on the Clean Air Act since the law was enacted.