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Attacks to the Clean Air Act & the False Choice between a Healthy Environment and Healthy Economy

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on September 15, 2011 | 3:39 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Over the past four decades, the Clean Air Act has proven to be an invaluable tool in our nation’s efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution and promote public health. The track record of the Clean Air Act also shows that strong environmental safeguards and strong economic growth go hand in hand.  

In fact, the history of the Clean Air Act clearly shows that its benefits – in the form of longer lives, healthier kids, greater workforce productivity and ecosystem protections – have outweighed the costs by more than 30 to 1. And in the time since the Clear Air Act was passed, air pollution has been reduced by more than 60 percent and the Gross Domestic Product of the United States has grown by more than 200 percent.

To build on the successes of the Clean Air Act, the Obama Administration has taken the most aggressive steps in a generation to protect the health of American families by reducing harmful pollution. Our actions to date, both historic and comprehensive, include new standards for cleaner, more efficient vehicles, common-sense regulations to curb pollution from power plants and industrial sources and efforts to deploy cleaner sources of energy across the country.  

Despite the compelling record of the Clean Air Act, some still believe that we cannot clean up pollution, create jobs and grow our economy all at the same time.  

Just this week, House Republicans voted on two separate bills that would roll back existing Clean Air Act public health protections. Notably, these bills would indefinitely delay the health benefits associated with rules that establish national limits on emissions of toxic air pollution – like mercury – from a variety of sources, including incinerators, industrial boilers and cement plants.  

Let’s take a closer look at what these bills would mean for American families:  

H.R. 2250, the “EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011”

According to EPA’s analysis, this bill would allow up to:  

  • 20,000 additional premature deaths;
  • 12,000 additional heart attacks; and
  • 123,000 additional asthma attacks that could have been avoided.

H.R. 2681, the “Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011”

According to EPA’s analysis, this bill would allow tens of thousands of adverse health effects from particulate matter exposure alone, including up to:  

  • 12,500 additional premature deaths;
  • 7,500 additional heart attacks; and,
  • 85,000 additional asthma attacks that could have been avoided.

Efforts like these to halt important safeguards for Americans are based on claims we have heard before, claims that EPA standards are harmful to the economy and employment. But based on the Clean Air Act’s forty year history, this Administration rejects the notion that a healthy environment and a healthy economy are two conflicting goals.  

Families should never have to choose between a job and healthy air, because they deserve both. That’s why we will fight against attempts to weaken and undermine the Clean Air Act moving forward, and continue to build on our strong record of clean air achievements to date.

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