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House Committee to Vote on Fred Upton's Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011

Pete Altman

Posted March 15, 2011 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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Late last week, a key US House subcommittee voted in favor of HR 910, the bill that would allow unlimited carbon pollution from power plants and other industrial polluters. The bill - which I like to call the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011 - would prevent the EPA from making badly-needed updates to clean air safeguards to limit carbon pollution.

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee begins discussion of and voting on the bill. We'll be live blogging and tweeting the markup when it starts at 3pm today.

Why does this bill matter so much? Well, one of the outcomes of continuing to allow unlimited carbon pollution is that it is likely worsen the conditions that make asthma a problem from which 24 million Americans, including 7 million kids, suffer.

Not to mention that major health advocacy organization like the American Lung Association which is concerned about the impact of the bill on the entire Clean Air Act. As ALA's CEO Charles Connor recently said,

"The enactment of Chairman Fred Upton's bill would strip away Clean Air Act protections that safeguard Americans and their families from air pollution that puts their lives at risk. The protections against the health harm from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution are essential to public health and must be preserved."

We produced this short web-ad to emphasize the devastating toll Chairman Upton's bill will have on the Clean Air Act:

For a lighter take on Upton's role in dismantling the Clean Air Act, check out my colleague Rob Perks' satirical musical take on things using the popular song (in the 80s) and retitled "Upton Bill."

Stay tuned, updates will be added here when we start live-blogging and tweeting (nrdclive) at 3pm.

3:30 pm: The committee began late, and due to technical problems has not been transmitting sound and picture until a few moments ago. Let the live blogging begin!

3:32 pm: Mr. Pitts: Politifact has already debunked the claims that the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011 would do anything to control gas prices. As I mentioned here.

3:35: Rep Terry is citing the American Council for Capital Formation - a group funded by the likes of ExxonMobil and the pro-pollution empire ruled by Charles and David Koch (see http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ljohnson/the_new_accf_michigan_report_r.html for more.)

3:38: Kudos to Rep Tammy Baldwin for chastising committee members who would vote to overturn the scientific experts at the EPA in favor of the polluter's agenda! As I've mentioned before most Americans - including Republicans - say the EPA should make decisions about how to regulate pollution, not Congress.

Also kudos to Rep Baldwin for focusing on the repeal of the ghg monitoring and reporting standards in HR 910.  How can we not want to know what the emissions are?

3:44 Rep Matsui makes the point that HR 910 endangers public health and efforts to clean up cars.

3:45 According to tax returns submitted to the IRS, the Koch-controlled Charles Lambe Foundation gave ACCF $100,000 in 2008 and $100,000 in 2009.  Rep Terry, Koch may not be the most impartial of sources for anticipating impacts of reducing carbon pollution.

3:46 Interesting that Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA, co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, doesn't make mention of the increased asthma problems and other health issues that will almost certainly occur if Upton bill is passed. And a Dr. should know that leading health groups oppose HR 910!

3:53 Way to go Rep Capps! who says Neither of thse bills will do anything to create even one job, but HR 910 would prevent the federal government from doing its job of protecting public health.

3:57 Rep Latta - right, HR 910 is not about science. Its about ignoring the science. And the record clearly shows that American business has thrived while we've made our air cleaner and safer.

4:00 Rep Lance - we should pride ourselves on having better laws to protect health from pollution than China does, but it isn't true to say that we are at a competitive disadvantage because of it. In fact as my colleague Jake Schmidt points out, China is moving well ahead of us in the clean energy competition.

4:02 Rep Blackburn - some small businesses are glad to have EPA working to reduce pollution because it saves them money when they have healthy workers that don't get sick due to pollution. See this blog by the Small Business Majority which says 

Removing the EPA’s ... ability to enforce the Clean Air Act will stifle the job creation and innovation that are direct products of the law. It also would set back efforts to transition to clean energy—a sector of our economy that promises to create jobs and business for millions of entrepreneurs. Cutting programs that have a stimulative effect on the economy is not what we should be doing in a recession.

4:05 Rep Mckinley says that steelworkers in ohio considered the belching smokestacks of industry to mean jobs. But the United Steelworkers also considered them a health hazard, which is why the USW has helped to PASS several of the most important clean air amendments since 1970. And its why the USW founded the Blue Green Alliance in support of clean energy jobs.

March 15, 10:15 AM. We are back waiting for the markup to resume. In the meantime, my colleague David Doniger blogged on Upton's bill will put more money in the pockets of oil companies.

10:24 They are back. Chairman Upton's first point is that they are going to break for lunch at 12. I guess that you can't gut the Clean Air Act on an empty stomach.

10:25 Mr. Waxman offers the first amendment to insert acceptance of EPA's scientific findings that the earth is warming and snow and ice are melting. Waxman quotes the National Academy of Sciences which strongly confirms this finding.

10:30 Mr. Barton objects to the amendment. You will remember that he is the Representative from Texas who apologized to BP last year. Barton acknowledges that carbon dioxide has increased but says everything other than that is "murky." He says that climate change is a theory that hasn't been proven. Mr. Barton totally ignores the the National Academy of Sciences, which said last year that the "theory" of climate change caused by carbon pollution is as well established as the "theory" of gravity.

10:36 Ms. Schakowsky speaking in favor of the Waxman amendment. Notes that Mr. Barton's statement is in the permanent record, which will show that he is on the wrong side of history. She says that voting down this amendment doesn't change the facts.

10:39 Mr. Stearns notes that voting to accept EPA's scientific findings goes completely against what the Upton bill is trying to accomplish. True enough. But then he goes on to claim that EPA is going to impose a cap and trade system that Congress failed to enact. EPA has said specifically that it is not going to do that.

 10:42 Ms. Eschoo, speaking in favor of the amendment, points out that moving into "fact free" zones is not good for democracy. "We can blah blah about a lot of things" but attacking science is very troubling for our country. She notes that it is a real problem when ideology prevails over science, which is is a point that the Project on Climate Science made recently.

10:47 Mr. Murphy of Pennsylvania cites Gallileo and Einstein and correctly notes that science requires careful replication. Then in a complete non-sequitor he says that Congress should not legislate a scientific finding, ignoring that the finding is consistent the conclusions of the National Academy of Sciences, which has reviewed the carefully replicated science. Mr Waxman points out that the original bill would repeal EPA's scientific finding on climate change, so if Congress doesn't wan't to legislate science it should drop the bill.

10:53 Mr. Markey reviews Gallileo's history. Notes that Congress repealing EPA's scientific finding is like the Vatican ordering Gallileo to recant, something they eventually apologized for in 1992.

11:00 Mr. Stearns drags up the claim that scientists were concerned about global cooling in the 1970s, so we can't trust them on warming now. In fact, there were never more than a handful of scientists forecasting global cooling and certainly nothing like the detailed scientific assessments confirming global warming, such as those conducted by IPCC, EPA, and NAS.

11:05 Amendment fails 20-31 on a party line vote.

11:07 Ms. DeGette offers another amendment to recognize the science, specifically that pollution is causing climate change.

11:12 Mr. Whitfield objects, quoting some random French scientist, but then agrees with Mr. Markey that the House of Representatives should not be legislating science. (Again ignoring that the bill would do just that by overturning EPA's scientific "endangerment" finding). But he ackowledges that having a science debate is helpful to the other side and moves on to claiming that EPA's regulations will cost jobs. But the Blue Green Alliance, a major coalition of unions and environmental organizations says the opposite in a just-released statement.

11:20 Mr. Waxman speaks in support, summarizing the testimony at the hearing Democrats forced the committee to hold last week.

11:23 Mr. Bilbray complains that people are citing science, but unwilling to recognize the science that EPA's proposals won't solve the problem. Its true that EPA regulations won't solve the problem by itself, but that is hardly a reason to do nothing, as Mr. Waxman points out.

11:28 Ms. Christensen notes that legislative bodies are a threat to public health when they ignore the science that they themselves paid for.

11:31 Mr. Waxman points out that last year he tried to enact legislation to address global warming but the ranking Republican on the committee, Mr. Barton, refused to cooperate, saying that he wouldn't work to solve a problem that he didn't think existed.

11:34 Mr. Burgess objects to be calling a science denier and then cites as evidence an unscientific poll of Scientific American readers.

11:35 Mr. Barton acknowledges that Mr. Waxman is right and that he doesn't think CO2 is a problem. His argument is that CO2 is allowed to be up to 4000 ppm in a submarine. Last time I checked submarines weren't part of the atmosphere.

11:47 Amendment fails 21-30.

11:48 Mr. Inslee offers an amendment to accept EPA's scientific findings. He decries the war on science and shows a slide with data showing the increase in CO2 concentration. He notes that Republicans said that CO2 is benign, but water is also  benign unless your are inundated by a tidal wave. Inslee argues that there is a tidal wave of CO2 building up in the atmosphere. Second slide shows an electric charging station recently installed at a church. Inslee argues that the problem is that Republicans don't have enough faith in the ability of America to solve the problem. Third slide: Green Hornet running on biofuels. Inslee points out that the seal on the plane is an eagle, not an ostrich. Go Inslee--three zingers in one speech.

11:58 No debate. Amendment fails 21-31. Time for lunch.

3:24 The Committee is still at it. Or more accurately, they were at it again after lunch but have again taken a break. For continued coverage of the House Committee vote, follow NRDCLive on Twitter. And after the vote, we'll post an update to let who voted for the Asthma Aggravation Act.

In the meantime, trouble is brewing in the Senate where Senator Mitch McConnell has just proposed amending a small business bill to block the EPA from reducing carbon pollution. NRDC will post on the Senate vote as well.

UPDATE: The Energy and Commerce Committee Voted HR 910 out of committee. I blog about that here: (http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/meet_the_asthma_aggravators.html)

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Comments

Dan from AKMar 14 2011 10:45 PM

Carbon dioxide is not a particulate or a toxin, it does not cause asthma, it is not even a factor in air quality calculations

Peter SMar 15 2011 03:21 PM

I cannot accept that we will roll back our quality of life so businesses, especially corporations mortgaged to China can do as they please.

Carbon Dioxide in large quantities will affect all living things!

I still can vividly recall traveling through buffalo/niagra falls in the late sixities and being unable to breathe...horrible.

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