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Mercury and Toxic Pollution Hall of Shame: Meet The Members of Congress That Sided With Corporate Polluters Over Children and Your Health

John Walke

Posted February 24, 2011

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For the first time in the forty-year history of the Clean Air Act, a majority of the House of Representatives has voted to block EPA from implementing and enforcing standards to sharply reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions from a polluting industry.

In one of a long list of irresponsible amendments to last week's Republican budget, nearly all Republicans and a small group of Democrats voted to block EPA standards to reduce mercury, arsenic, lead, PCBs, dioxins and furans, and heavy metals from cement plants.

Mercury and lead both are dangerous neurotoxins – brain poisons – that harm the developing brains of children and fetuses. Dioxins are known human carcinogens linked to birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, and lung and breast cancer. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen linked to lung and kidney cancer and PCBs are probable human carcinogens linked to liver cancer.

On February 17th, in a 250-177 vote, the House of Representatives approved an amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) to deny any funds to EPA to “implement, administer or enforce” mercury and other toxic air pollution standards for all cement plants in the country.

The EPA standards [pdf] that the House voted to block would reduce cement plants’ mercury emissions nationwide by 16,600 pounds [pdf], a 92 percent reduction from projected 2013 emission levels.

Most of the remaining toxic pollutants are metals or organics that are reduced by controlling particulate matter and hydrocarbons, respectively. The EPA standards would further reduce particulate matter by 11,500 tons annually, a 92% reduction, and total hydrocarbons by 10,600 tons annually, an 83% reduction [pdf].

Were these toxic pollution safeguards allowed to take effect, EPA projects that starting in 2013 and every year thereafter, the standards would avoid: up to 2,500 premature deaths; 1,500 heart attacks; 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma; 32,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms; and 130,000 days when people would have missed miss work [pdf].

Instead, the following members of Congress chose to join the mercury and toxic pollution hall of shame by blocking EPA from carrying out and enforcing toxic air pollution standards. These members sided with corporate polluters over America’s children, health and environment.

Alabama: Aderholt (R), Bachus (R), Bonner (R), Brooks (R), Roby (R) and Rogers (R).

Alaska: Young (R).

Arizona: Flake (R), Franks (R), Gosar (R), Quayle (R) and Schweikert (R).

Arkansas: Crawford (R), Griffin (R), Ross (D) and Womack (R).

California: Bilbray (R), Bono Mack (R), Calvert (R), Campbell (R), Cardoza (D), Costa (D), Denham (R), Dreier (R), Gallegly (R), Herger (R), Hunter (R), Issa (R), Lewis (R), Lungren (R), McCarthy (R), McClintock (R), McKeon (R), Gary Miller (R), Nunes (R), Rohrabacher (R) and Royce (R).

Colorado: Coffman (R), Gardner (R), Lamborn (R) and Tipton (R).

Florida: Adams (R), Bilirakis (R), Buchanan (R), Crenshaw (R), Diaz-Balart (R), Mack (R), Mica (R), Miller (R), Nugent (R), Posey (R), Rivera (R), Rooney (R), Ros-Lehtinen (R), Ross (R), Southerland (R), Stearns (R), Webster (R) and West (R).

Georgia: Barrow (D), Broun (R), Gingrey (R), Graves (R), Kingston (R), Price (R), Austin Scott (R), Westmoreland (R) and Woodall (R).

Idaho: Labrador (R) and Simpson (R).

Illinois: Biggert (R), Costello (D), Dold (R), Hultgren (R), Kinzinger (R), Lipinski (D), Manzullo (R), Roskam (R), Schilling (R), Shimkus (R) and Walsh (R).

Indiana: Bucshon (R), Burton (R), Donnelly (D), Pence (R), Rokita (R), Stutzman (R) and Young (R).

Iowa: King (R) and Latham (R).

Kansas: Huelskamp (R), Jenkins (R), Pompeo (R) and Yoder (R).

Kentucky: Davis (R), Guthrie (R), Rogers (R) and Whitfield (R).

Louisiana: Alexander (R), Boustany (R), Cassidy (R), Fleming (R), Landry (R) and Scalise (R).

Maryland: Bartlett (R) and Harris (R).

Michigan: Amash (R), Benishek (R), Camp (R), Huizenga (R), McCotter (R), Miller (R), Rogers (R), Upton (R) and Walberg (R). 

Minnesota: Bachmann (R), Cravaack (R), Kline (R), Paulsen (R) and Peterson (D).

Mississippi: Harper (R), Nunnelee (R) and Palazzo (R).

Missouri: Akin (R), Emerson (R), Graves (R), Hartzler (R), Long (R) and Luetkemeyer (R).

Montana: Rehberg (R).

Nebraska: Fortenberry (R), Smith (R) and Terry (R).

Nevada: Berkley (D), Heck (R) and Heller (R).

New Hampshire: Guinta (R).

New Jersey: Frelinghuysen (R), Garrett (R) and Runyan (R).

New Mexico: Pearce (R).

New York: Buerkle (R), Gibson (R), Grimm (R), Hanna (R), Hayworth (R), King (R) and Reed (R).

North Carolina: Coble (R), Ellmers (R), Foxx (R), Jones (R), Kissell (D), McHenry (R) and Myrick (R).

North Dakota: Berg (R).

Ohio: Austria (R), Chabot (R), Gibbs (R), Renacci (R), Johnson (R), Jordan (R), LaTourette (R), Latta (R), Schmidt (R), Stivers (R), Tiberi (R) and Turner (R).

Oklahoma: Boren (D), Cole (R), Lankford (R), Lucas (R) and Sullivan (R).

Oregon: Schrader (D) and Walden (R).

Pennsylvania: Altmire (D), Barletta (R), Critz (D), Dent (R), Fitzpatrick (R), Gerlach (R), Holden (D), Kelly (R), Marino (R), Meehan (R), Murphy (R), Pitts (R), Platts (R), Shuster (R) and Thompson (R).

South Carolina: Duncan (R), Gowdy (R), Mulvaney (R), Scott (R) and Wilson (R).

South Dakota: Noem (R).

Tennessee: Black (R), Blackburn (R), DesJarlais (R), Duncan (R), Fincher (R), Fleischmann (R) and Roe (R).

Texas: Barton (R), Brady (R), Burgess (R), Canseco (R), Carter (R), Conaway (R), Cuellar (D), Culberson (R), Flores (R), Gohmert (R), Granger (R), Green (D), Hall (R), Hensarling (R), Sam Johnson (R), Marchant (R), Olson (R), Paul (R), Poe (R), McCaul (R), Neugebauer (R), Sessions (R), Smith (R) and Thornberry (R).

Utah: Bishop (R) and Chaffetz (R).

Virginia: Cantor (R), Forbes (R), Goodlatte (R), Griffith (R), Hurt (R), Rigell (R) and Wittman (R).

Washington: Hastings (R), Herrera Beutler (R), McMorris Rodgers (R) and Reichert (R).

West Virginia: Capito (R), McKinley (R) and Rahall (D).

Wisconsin: Duffy (R), Kind (D), Petri (R), Ribble (R), Ryan (R) and Sensenbrenner (R).

Wyoming: Lummis (R).


Special gratitude is owed the members who voted against the pernicious Carter amendment and stood up for America’s children and public health, EPA, and the Rule of Law. This is especially true of the courageous seven Republicans who broke with their caucus and voted against the irresponsible Carter amendment: Bass (NH), Johnson (IL), Lance, (NJ), LoBiondo (NJ), Smith (NJ), Wolf (VA), and Young (FL). (This gratitude must be tempered, however, by pointing out that all seven of these Republicans voted for passage of the final Republican budget, meaning that they ended up voting for the destructive Carter amendment in the final analysis anyway.)

The members supporting the dirty air amendment have anointed themselves into a toxic hall of shame of their own creation. History should not judge this distinction kindly.

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RaynaleFeb 24 2011 09:21 PM

How appropriate to call this the "Hall of Shame." Since they so flagrantly flaunt their power to kill the people...I think that it is only appropriate to let the people know exactly who is responsible for the murderous act! Let the truth be heard...

Thank you for the posting NRDC. You do fine work. I posted this article to Facebook and hope that everybody who read it does the same.

Shame on them!

Bob WallerFeb 25 2011 10:50 AM

The only thing that deserves HALL of Shame status is the out of control, over-reaching EPA!!! They need their wings clipped. You same people who say you want to "enforce standards to sharply reduce mercury" are the same ones who fill your homes with CFL lightbulbs which are laden with mercury!! Typical hypocrisy and the usual "anything called GREEN must be good for us." Why isn't the EPA halting the CFL bulbs?

John WalkeFeb 25 2011 11:05 AM

Mr. Waller, thank you for your comment. I would be happy to hear specifically why you believe the cement air toxic standards over-reach EPA's legal authority and obligations under the Clean Air Act, conferred by a Republican Senate, Democratic House, and Republican President in 1990. The standards will yield an estimated $7 to $19 in health benefits for every $1 in compliance costs, so they hardly over-reach economically.

You are right that each of us has a responsibility to dispose of hazardous substances in our homes safely. But that does not mean that we must accept unsafe levels of mercury or lead in our food and water, or carcinogens in the air we and our families breathe.

Finally, there are plenty of products that use metals or substances we would not want to ingest, such as lead and any other metal. But it does not follow that you remove those products from commerce. No environmentalist I know of takes that position.

Red Sox FanFeb 26 2011 06:09 PM

One curious thing about the cement rule rider is how limited the connection is between this rider and the deficit. This and other riders have limited impact on the budget, but the proponents waste their time on special interest provisions when they posture on how they are serious about the deficit.

Nothing in this rider increase the wealth on America as a whole. The money saved by the Portland Cement industry has to be offset by the damaged health and welfare of Americans. Even if you view hospitalization costs as economically just a transfer payment (and I'm sure there are economists who do), the injuries caused by these toxic pollutants shorten years of life and well being. The backers of this rider tax our lungs and lives.

LindaFeb 28 2011 09:36 AM

These publically appointed people disgust me! Yes, their names should be published in The Hall of Shame!

Comments are closed for this post.


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