skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Clean Power plan
Safe Chemicals

Pete Altman’s Blog

Sen. Scott Brown: Stand Up for Clean Air, Not Polluters

Pete Altman

Posted January 18, 2011

, , , , , ,
Share | | |

A lot of people in Massachusetts suffer from asthma, the disease that makes it hard to breathe, sends kids gasping for breath to the emergency room and can saddle families with huge medical bills. In fact, estimates from the American Lung Association are that over 130,000 kids and nearly 500,000 adults in Massachusetts suffer from asthma.*

One of the things that makes asthma worse is air pollution, specifically smog, and one of the things that makes it harder to reduce smog is carbon pollution.In fact, as my colleague Kim Knowlton has explained, rising temperatures driven by carbon pollution can actually make smog - and thus kids' health - worse.

Given all that, you might wonder why Massachusett's own Senator Scott Brown is telling constituents that he doesn't think the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should update public health protections to limit the amount of carbon that polluters can dump into the air. Right now, there are NO limits for life-threatening carbon pollution.

So today, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment Massachusetts are teaming up to let Massachusetts residents know that:

“… (Senator Brown’s) actions threaten the health of hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents, especially children with asthma and seniors.

Brown has expressed support for congressional efforts to block EPA from limiting carbon dioxide pollution. Carbon dioxide pollution increases the risk of heat stress, promotes the spread of infectious diseases and makes it more difficult to reduce smog pollution, which threatens the health of asthma sufferers and others with respiratory problems.”

Check out the radio ad that NRDC and Environment Massachusetts are running on Bay State radio stations this week.The text of the radio spot is as follows:

"For 40 years, the U.S. EPA has protected the health of all Americans by cracking down on big polluters and the life-threatening pollution they pour into our air. But now Senator Scott Brown wants to cripple the EPA when it comes to protecting us from carbon dioxide, by letting big polluters dump unlimited amounts into our air. Please call Scott Brown at 202-224-4543 and ask him why he's putting corporate polluters and their profits ahead of the health of our families. Paid for by NRDC."

We think Massachusetts residents (and the rest of us) deserve better. We all know that big polluters don't want the EPA to do its job. Some of them have given generously to Senator Brown - during his 2010 campaign, energy and natural resources sent nearly $150,000 to the Brown campaign. I'm not suggesting the Senator Brown is trying to cripple the EPA just because polluters funded his campaign. But they did help put him in office, and its what he does there that counts.

Senator Brown needs to hear from folks back home that he should stand up for clean air and public health, instead of standing up for polluters.


NOTE: the asthma figures originally provided in this post were incorrect. The post now provides the correct figures.

Share | | |


Caroline KCattJan 19 2011 10:52 AM

From my understanding Senator Brown is against Cap & Trade, not that he is against the Clean Air Act. Can you please supply further detailed data regarding where you got your information from? (a website, email from Sen. Brown, etc)
Thank you,

Peter AltmanJan 19 2011 10:57 AM

Caroline - thanks for your comment. I did link the post to a copy of an email Senator Brown sent to on of our activists.

Caroline KJan 19 2011 04:53 PM

Is there anyway to provide a simple link to the doc versus a link to a zipped file with several directories and subdirectories. It's a bit challenging to figure out where to find the document.

Thank you

Peter AltmanJan 19 2011 04:55 PM

Kat - I'm not sure why the link is giving you trouble, but here's the text from Senator Brown's note:

Senator Scott Brown’s response R-MA to an NRDC member:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns over the regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As always, I value your input on this and other issues, and strive to keep you updated on the important issues facing us today.

While a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature, I supported several measures that provided common sense incentives for clean energy innovation and a transition to a low carbon economy. I believe this is an integral part of protecting and preserving our environment for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.

In the U.S. Senate, I have worked with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) on legislation that would sharply limit sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, and have joined with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to cosponsor legislation that would establish the Home Star home energy conservation rebate program to increase energy efficiency in our homes and create jobs. I remain committed to developing cleaner sources of energy, but also believe we should do it in a way that does not hurt our chances to improve the economy and put people back to work.

While many of my colleagues have argued that giving the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is the answer to our energy problems, I disagree. This action would give an unelected and unaccountable government agency the power to impose restrictive and damaging carbon dioxide regulations that will drive up energy prices and hurt job-creating small businesses in Massachusetts and across the nation. We cannot have every restaurant owner or small farmer worried about the costs of complying with new carbon dioxide emissions restrictions. Furthermore, imposing this regulation of emissions is something that will affect every aspect of our economy and every American. Decisions pertaining to this serious issue should have a full and open debate in Congress.

I believe there are better, more responsible ways to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, which do not cede significant influence to the EPA and ultimately break the back of our economy. Those efforts include encouraging greater energy efficiency in our homes, vehicles and offices. It also means investment in developing additional sources of natural gas and allowing for new nuclear power generation, as well as fostering more renewable energy production. In addition, we should pursue incentives and logistical assistance to encourage our automotive fleet to move away from oil toward natural gas, efficient battery technology, and other low carbon transportation fuels. We should also consider more funding for basic research into the energy breakthroughs of tomorrow, such as algae-based fuel.

Massachusetts is home to some of the world's top technology leaders, companies, and institutions, and we should harness this knowledge and innovation to find new, cost effective solutions to address these significant issues. We have great potential to transition to a nation focused on clean energy. We must act, but we must do so in a way that maximizes potential job benefits and does not burden our economy with unnecessary costs at a time when it is still recovering.

Again, thank you for sharing your comments with me. I will keep your views in mind should the full Senate debate energy and climate change legislation in the coming months. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or visit my website at

Scott P. Brown
United States Senator

KN SmithJan 20 2011 03:54 AM

"I remain committed to developing cleaner sources of energy, but also believe we should do it in a way that does not hurt our chances to improve the economy and put people back to work."

Sounds like more political-speak from the Senator... The two goals of a strong economy and clean air are not mutually exclusive.

Comments are closed for this post.


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

Feeds: Pete Altman’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In