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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, August 1, 2013

Capps Champions Amendment to Protect Children and Seniors

Provision Would Preserve EPA’s Role In Protecting Public Health

Today, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) offered the final amendment to the Energy Consumers Relief Act (H.R. 1582), legislation that would undermine the ability of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement rules under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act that safeguard human health and the environment. Capps’ amendment would protect the ability of EPA to issue rules that would result in lower rates of cancer, asthma, premature death or respiratory disease in children or seniors.


The amendment was voted down on a party-line vote, and the bill passed.

“Protecting seniors and children should always be our top priority,” Capps said. “Strong public health standards bring about peace of mind and let families across the country know that the air we breathe and water we drink are safe. This duplicative, misguided bill makes no sense and would seriously undermine EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment. I’m disappointed that my colleagues across the aisle yet again chose to put the profits of polluters above the health of children and seniors.”

The Energy Consumers Relief Act would give the Department of Energy (DOE) an unprecedented veto authority over EPA’s air and water pollution rules, or any other rule that could be interpreted as “energy-related.” It also requires DOE, EPA and other federal agencies to conduct duplicative analyses that focus only on the costs of proposed rules, while ignoring any benefit, and includes no deadlines for completion of these reports, which could lead to indefinite delays. EPA is already required to conduct extensive analysis of both the costs and benefits of its proposed rules, including examination of the effects on energy.

The bill is opposed by multiple health groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Public Health Association, as well as environmental organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and National Wildlife Federation.

Text of Capps’ statement on the House floor is below.

M__ Speaker, I rise today to offer the final amendment to the bill.

And I want to be clear – passage of this amendment will not prevent passage of the underlying bill. If it’s adopted, my amendment will be incorporated into the bill, and the bill will be immediately voted upon.

As currently written, HR 1582 would cripple EPA’s ability to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe.

My amendment simply ensures EPA can continue to protect children and seniors from the harmful impacts of pollution.

My friends across the aisle claim this bill is about transparency. But let’s call it what it is – just another attempt to block EPA from doing its job.

This bill makes no sense on so many levels. It’s redundant and unnecessary; it gives the Energy Secretary unprecedented authority to veto EPA rules; and it allows for indefinite delays of EPA rulemaking.

Our top priority should be the health of our children and families, not the bottom line of polluting energy companies.

It’s scary to think how many EPA protections that we now take for granted would have been delayed or derailed if this bill were law.

Consider the recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Before these rules, there were no federal standards limiting power plant emissions of toxic air pollutants like mercury and arsenic.

As we know, these toxic pollutants are really poisons, causing a variety of serious health problems in people of all ages. They affect brain development in children, and can cause serious birth defects when pregnant women are exposed. That’s why EPA put restrictions on these toxic emissions.

Restrictions that protect future generations and set them up for success, while also reducing preventable health care costs.

If H.R. 1582 had been law, these rules could have been delayed indefinitely or not happened at all.

M__ Speaker, my friends across the aisle talk frequently about the financial costs of these and other EPA actions. But what about the health care costs – costs that all of us pay when these preventable ailments occur?

And what about the human costs of inaction?

Delaying the air toxics standards for just one additional year would have resulted in:

More than 11,000 heart attacks.

More than 120,000 asthma attacks.

More than 12,000 more hospital and emergency room visits.

And up to 25,300 lives lost due to smog, soot, and toxic air pollution.

And that’s just in one year!

M__ Speaker, people should be more important than profit.

My amendment speaks to just this. It would simply shield rules that protect the health of children and seniors from this dangerous bill.

If my colleagues are serious about protecting our children and our seniors, then they should have no trouble supporting my amendment.

More than anyone, children and seniors rely on the EPA to do its job protecting public health and the environment.

The Mercury and Air Toxics rule – and others like it – are helping children and families across the nation live healthier, longer lives.

I know that polluters often find these rules inconvenient, but the American people certainly don’t. They want clean air to breathe. They want clean water to drink. And they want the peace of mind that comes from strong public health standards.

My amendment ensures that protecting the health of our children and seniors never takes a back seat to the financial interests of polluters.

I urge my colleagues to support it and make sure that the health and wellbeing of our children and seniors always comes first.

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