clean air act

House Republicans Sacrifice Human Health For Alleged Job Creation

With July 2012 officially behind us, the U.S. jobs report for the month has economists and politicians concerned about the employment situation in America. And even though the economy added 163,000 jobs (economists had predicted only 100,000 jobs to be added for July,) the unemployment rate and the underemployment rate both crept slightly upwards. And with national elections coming up in three months, poor jobs numbers could be bad for our health.

If history is any indicator, Conservative politicians and think tanks will use last month’s poor jobs report in an attempt to provide massive giveaways to their friends in the dirty energy industry. They attempted the same thing after below-average job growth in May of this year, claiming that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be the job boon that Americans desperately need.

But Republicans in Washington didn’t wait for a bad jobs report before they started planning their dirty energy bonanza, but its likely they will use it as a catalyst to gain more support for their disastrous plans.

In mid June of this year, Republicans on the “House Energy Action Team” (HEAT) proposed a set of bills that would destroy many of the safeguards that are currently in place to protect our environment and our personal health in order to make things “easier” for businesses to create jobs without worrying about those pesky safety standards. What the package of legislation is really about is repaying HEAT members’ financiers from the dirty energy industry who stand to save a ton of cash by destroying regulations.

The legislation package would remove many current existing safeguards for environmental and public health until the unemployment rate drops below 6%, a rate that hasn’t been seen since July 2008, when it was 5.8%. Since that month four years ago, the rate has stayed consistently above 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

American Lung Association Releases 2012 State of the Air Report

The American Lung Association (ALA) released their annual State of the Air report today, followed by a live discussion on Twitter where the organization answered questions. While the report offers some positive news for American citizens, it also shows us that the Clean Air Act is under attack from the dirty energy industry.

Here are the highlights from this year’s report:

More than 4 in 10 people (41 %) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Over 127.2 million Americans live in the 235 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles.

Over 5.7 million people (1.9%) in the United States live in six counties with unhealthful levels of all three: ozone and short-term and year-round particle pollution: ozone and short-term and year-round particle pollution.

The strongest improvement came in reducing ozone smog levels across the nation. More than half of the country’s most-smog-polluted cities experienced their best year yet. Twenty two of the 25 cities with the most ozone pollution improved their air quality over the past year’s report. More than half of the country’s most smog-polluted cities experienced their best year yet. Still, nearly four in ten people in the U.S. (37.8%) live in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone pollution.

The ALA also lists the health effects of this year’s two biggest pollutants – ozone and particle pollution:

A Best Practice a Day Keeps the Feds Away: API Workshop on Fracking "Excellence"

The ongoing American Petroleum Institute (API) workshop “Commitment to Excellence in Hydraulic Fracturing” could be more simply titled “Commitment to Hydraulic Fracturing.” The API poses as an industry leader, working to develop best practices and strengthen operating procedures. But these days the sheep’s-clothing is starting to wear thin. After all, the “Commitment to Excellence” workshop has little to do with improving industry standards and everything to do with keeping the feds at bay.

The gas industry enjoys a number of exemptions from environmental statutes at the federal level. These exemptions, from laws like the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, mean that oversight of the industry occurs at the state level, an arrangement that some feel facilitates rather than regulates gas drilling. So understandably, federal involvement is something the industry wants to avoid – and keynote speaker and former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan was at the workshop to tell them just how to do that.

EPA Proposes First-Ever Federal Fracking Rules

The U.S. EPA is poised to enact the first ever rules on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) with a proposal that would allow the agency to regulate the practice under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air route was chosen by the agency, as the U.S. Congress prohibited their attempts to regulate the practice of fracking under the Clean Water Act in 2005.

From Raw Story:

The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking: Food and Water Watch Report

Last month, DeSmogBlog released Fracking the Future, an in-depth report on the threats posed by unconventional gas drilling and the efforts of the gas industry to limit state and federal oversight of the process. A review of independent scientific research showed that under no conditions can unconventional gas drilling be considered safe, nor can the oil and gas industry’s army of PR front groups and apolgists be trusted to give an accurate portrayal of the true risks associated with the fracked gas boom.

The report concluded that current state oversight is inadequate to hold the rapidly growing gas industry accountable and, given the dangers associated with unconventional gas production, an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is necessary and overdue.

In its new report, the nonprofit Food and Water Watch renewed these claims, calling for a reinstatement of federal statutes like the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act over unconventional drilling and, more forcefully, calling for a nationwide fracking ban. 

Entitled The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking, the new report details the rapid growth of the risky unconventional gas fracking frenzy gaining momentum across the U.S. In the four-year span from 2004 to 2008, gas wells in America increased by 41 percent, to over 52,000. This steady increase of drilling across the country is accompanied by an unsettling encroachment of gas wells into residential areas. The report cites Pennsylvania as an example, where over 3000 unconventional wells and future well sites sit within two miles of 320 day care centers, 67 schools, and 9 hospitals. 

Interior Dept Okays Thousands Of New Unconventional Gas Wells In Utah

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are fast-tracking unconventional gas drilling permits in Utah’s Uintah Basin.

Upton’s Efforts To Scuttle Climate Change Action Not As Popular As He Thought

A recent survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC), finds that a majority of voters in House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-MI) home district do not support his attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and its use of the Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution.

In February, the American Lung Association released the results of a bipartisan national survey showing that 68% of Americans think that “Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards,” while 69% “think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution.”

In Rep. Fred Upton’s 6th District, where he easily won 62% of the vote in 2010, 59% of his constituents feel that Congress should “let EPA do its job,” and 53% favor the EPA setting tougher controls for air pollution. Launches Crowd-Funded Ad Campaign To Hold Polluter-Friendly Politicians Accountable and CREDO Mobile are testing a new tactic to turn up the heat on polluter-friendly politicians who receive large campaign contributions from dirty energy interests and then turn around and vote against public health and the environment. Kinda like the Senators who recently voted to gut the Clean Air Act, like Scott Brown (R-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), for example.

Making phone calls and signing petitions to Congress are tried and true grassroots organizing tactics, but there are other tools that might have an even greater impact. That’s why 350 and CREDO are experimenting with crowd-sourcing - asking a few Senators’ constituents to crowd-fund ads connecting the dots between their Senator’s vote to gut the Clean Air Act and their campaign contributions from polluters.

People Power: How We Can Fight Back and Win Against Powerful Polluter Interests

Guest post by Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, originally published at AlterNet.

Not for forty years has there been such a stretch of bad news for environmentalists in Washington.
Last month in the House, the newly empowered GOP majority voted down a resolution stating simply that global warming was real: they’ve apparently decided to go with their own versions of physics and chemistry.
This week in the Senate, the biggest environmental groups were reduced to a noble, bare-knuckles fight merely to keep the body from gutting the Clean Air Act, the proudest achievement of the green movement. The outcome is still unclear; even several prominent Democrats are trying to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
And at the White House? The president who boasted that his election marked the moment when ‘the oceans begin to recede’ instead introduced an energy plan heavy on precisely the carbon fuels driving global warming. He focused on ‘energy independence,’ a theme underscored by his decision to open 750 million tons of Wyoming coal to new mining leases. That’s the equivalent of running 3,000 new power plants for a year.

U.S. Congress Votes On Republican Bill To Kill The EPA’s Authority To Control Climate Change Pollution

The Senate and House have cast important votes to determine the future of carbon emissions regulations in the U.S. Thankfully the news is good.

Advocates for strong action on climate change and the nearly 3/4 Americans who believe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should protect public health, are celebrating an important victory. Yesterday the Senate rejected multiple proposals to end the EPA climate authority. Now climate deniers and big polluters (including the Koch brothers) are mourning a significant defeat and blow to their dirty energy agenda.
Notably, four amendments to small business legislation, entirely for the purpose of limiting the EPA’s role in regulating carbon emissions, were defeated. Three were from Democrats, mainly Max Baucus (MT), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Jay Rockefeller (WV), whose amendment to halt EPA use of the Clean Air Act for two years fell 88-12. The final blow (or fail) for polluter-friendly legislators came when Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) proposed an amendment to exempt power plants, refineries and other carbon polluters from oversight. His amendment was a precursor to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and House colleague Fred Upton’s (R-MIbill to end the EPA’s power to protect public health and the environment from the effects of climate change, known as H.R. 910 the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011”. Needing 60 votes to pass and securing only 50 votes in support.


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