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Correcting Outright Misrepresentations about the TRAIN Act by its Supporters

John Walke

Posted September 23, 2011 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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A Republican Congressman took to the House floor yesterday to flatly misrepresent the clear and harmful consequences of the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401), which blocks and stalls significant clean air protections, allowing their permanent delay. The error-ridden defense of the bill by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) might have reflected a profound misunderstanding of the 12-page bill. More likely it showed an awareness that if the truth were known, the American people would never support legislation that repeals and delays clean air protections saving tens of thousands of lives and avoiding mercury poisoning of children and the unborn.

I set the record straight with the following side-by-side comparison of Bishop’s remarks and the actual legislation and its legal and health consequences

Claims by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)

                                  The TRAIN Act Reality

Mr. Bishop suggested the TRAIN Act is just a study bill.

This is untrue. Section 5 of the bill, entitled “Regulatory Deferral of Certain Rules,” repeals the already adopted cross-state smog and soot standards for power plants. It further prohibits final adoption of the mercury and air toxics standards for power plants, due by court order this November.

The bill imposes a minimum period of delay to the smog and soot standards, and mercury and air toxics standards, of 19 and 15 months, respectively. This allows up to 33,450 premature deaths that these standards otherwise would prevent during this period.

The TRAIN Act then eliminates any actual deadlines for EPA to re-issue health standards, allowing these life-saving standards to be blocked indefinitely.

 

Mr. Bishop said that the TRAIN Act “doesn’t stop [any] rulemaking, doesn’t stop any rule.”

This is untrue. See above.

Mr. Bishop said that the TRAIN Act “doesn’t rollback anything.”

 

This is untrue. See above. By repealing the cross-state rule's stronger smog and soot standards, and blocking the mercury and air toxics standards, the bill rolls back smog and soot standards to the weaker Bush-era “Clean Air Interstate Rule” (CAIR),which was overturned in court in 2008 for being inadequately protective of downwind states.

CAIR did not set emission limits for mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxins or the roughly 80 hazardous air pollutants emitted by power plants. The TRAIN Act does not replace that void with any air toxics limits during the 15-month period of delay it imposes.

CAIR allows one hundred thousand more tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution than the newer cross-state rule, and two hundred thousand more tons of soot-laden sulfur dioxide pollution.

Mr. Bishop said the TRAIN Act “doesn’t kill anybody.”

 

This is untrue. By repealing and blocking health safeguards that would save up to 33,450 lives during its 15-19 month period of delay, the TRAIN Act allows deaths to occur that these clean air standards otherwise would prevent. And because the legislation allows permanent delay of these protections, the deaths toll could rise dramatically. The TRAIN Act would be responsible for allowing those deaths to occur.

 

Mr. Bishop said that the TRAIN Act “doesn’t destroy anything, it doesn’t cut anything, it doesn’t stop anything."

This is untrue. See above.

Section 5 of the TRAIN Act on its face would repeal critical clean air safeguards against deadly soot and smog pollution. It would block the decade-overdue mercury and air toxics standards from being finalized this year. It would delay these standards 15-19 months, resulting in up to 33,450 premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks and many tens of thousands of asthma attacks. And on top that the bill allows the indefinite delay of these standards, denying their benefits to Americans forever.

We urge you to call your Representative and urge them to vote “NO” on H.R. 2401 – and the equally dangerous Whitfield and Latta amendments – and block this reckless attack on clean air protections for all Americans. 

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