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Pete Altman’s Blog

Don't Let Rep. Fred Upton Take Your Breath Away

Pete Altman

Posted March 2, 2011 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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Check out our new Web ad focusing on Michigan Rep. Fred Upton’s campaign to destroy badly-needed clean air health protections:

Upton was a key supporter of the recent U.S. House of Representatives assault on health protections under the guise of passage of the Continuing Resolution needed to keep the government funded.

In backing this unprecedented attack on clean air act protections for Americans, just how far out of step is Fred Upton with his constituents back home?  Our February 2011 survey conducted in Upton’s congressional district found: 

  • 62 percent of Upton’s constituents oppose a bill he is sponsoring to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce carbon dioxide and other pollutants;  
  • 67 percent -- including 60 percent of Republicans – agreed with the statement that "Congress should let the EPA do its job," as opposed to the minority who believe that "Congress should decide" what actions are taken to curb carbon pollution;

Most of Fred Upton's constituents want Congress to let EPA do its job

  • 61 percent say that "EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water”;  and 
  • 57 percent favor "the EPA setting new standards with stricter limits on air pollution."

Other independent polling has found similar results.

It turns out Congressman Upton’s constituents have excellent reasons to disagree with him when it comes to protecting clean air and water. 

For starters, there’s the new report out this week showing the Clean Air Act has saved millions of American’s lives, and has saved Americans over $2 trillion in health costs and lost productivity.

And consider these facts about these major Michigan environmental problems that would go untreated if Fred Upton has his way: 

  • Cement kilns emit dangerous amounts of mercury in Michigan.  The Lafarge kilns in Alpena emit more than 300 pounds of mercury annually.  These cement plants are of particular concern given their close proximity to Lake Huron and residential areas of Alpena. (Source: Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project, Cementing a Toxic Legacy?, July 2008,  )  Located near a popular fishing spot on Lake Besser, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warns against eating fish caught in the area.  (Source: Earthjustice, Interactive Cement Kiln Map.)  Yet the Continuing Resolution supported by Chairman Upton includes an amendment (#165) from Rep. Carter (R-TX) that prevents EPA from using funds to implement new air toxic pollution rules for cement kilns.  The EPA estimates that the cement kiln rules could prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths nationwide each year and save as much as $18 billion in health costs by reducing fine particulate matter emissions.  (Source: EPA Fact Sheet.)
  • According to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project, toxic coal ash from the Whiting site in Michigan is contaminating drinking and surface water with arsenic and heavy metals.  Yet the Continuing Resolution includes the amendment (#217) from Rep. McKinley (R-WV) to prohibit EPA from spending funds for regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste. (Source: Environmental Integrity Project, In Harm’s Way, August 26, 2010.)  
  • The American Lung Association estimates that over 225,000 Michigan children have asthma, a condition made worse and more dangerous by air pollution. Yet the Continuing Resolution includes amendments that would make air pollution worse by preventing the EPA from updating badly-needed clean air safeguards, including:  an amendment (#563) that blocks EPA from updating national air quality safeguards for soot pollution (coarse particulate matter), by Rep. Noem (R-SD);  an amendment (#466) that would allow unlimited carbon pollution from big power plants and other industrial polluters, by Rep. Poe (R-TX); and an amendment (#165) that blocks EPA from updating clean air safeguards to protect our health and would increase soot, mercury, arsenic and other cancer-causing toxic pollution from cement kilns, by Rep. Carter (R-TX).   (Asthma prevalence source: American Lung Association, 2010.)

Its worth noting that over the course of his career, Chairman Upton has taken over $750,000 from polluters. When it comes to advancing the polluter's agenda by trashing clean air health protections, Congressman Fred Upton really does take your breath away! 

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Comments

Ben BayerMar 8 2011 11:31 AM

Wow. Thank you for this report. Most people I know in the Midwest have respiratory, immune system problems, or cancer...and it affects them EACH DAY, BUT THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON NOW that threatens their health everyday!

Thank you, sir, for reporting this information!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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