Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Do You Hate The Republicans Who Voted To Allow More Air Pollution? How About The Blue Dogs Who Voted With Them?


Lately, I've been writing a lot about how the DCCC is trying to bring on the dancing Blue Dogs again-- so, like clockwork, I'm hearing from a packing of simpering whiners about what an awful purist I am and how only Blue Dogs can win on this district or that district, ideas born out of nothing at all except the purest and most overwhelming ignorance (with some shear stupidity tossed in for good measure generally speaking).

So today Ryan and McCarthy were bragging how they passed corrupt Big Oil-and-pollution-owned Republican Pete Olson's H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act. Ryan said it was a bipartisan effort and, technically-speaking, it was. 11 Republicans refused to vote for the horrific bill-- primarily Republicans in swing districts like Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Dave Reichert (WA), Bruce Poliquin (ME), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Elise Stefanik (NY)... you know, districts where people care something about... well, clean air. And then there were 4 Blue Dogs who crossed the aisle in the other direction and joined the GOP-- as they do on a regular basis-- to pay back the immense bribes they take from pollution industries who wrote Olson's bill. Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA) and Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) all voted for the bill.

Naughty, naughty Blue Dogs-- but vote for them anyway? This is what the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Medical Association. the Children's Environmental Health Network, the American Public Health Association and 10 other non-partisan public health groups told every member of Congress in a letter.
Clean air is fundamental for good health, and the Clean Air Act promises all Americans air that is safe to breathe. The undersigned public health and medical organizations urge you to oppose H.R. 806, the so-called “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017.” A more fitting name for this legislation would be the “Smoggy Skies Act,” as it delays lifesaving standards to reduce ozone pollution, or smog, and permanently weakens the Clean Air Act.

Clear, up-to-date, scientific evidence documented the need for greater protection from ozone pollution, and drove the stronger limit on ozone that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized in 2015. To meet the updated standard, the states have clear authority and plenty of time to plan and then work to reduce pollution under the Clean Air Act’s long-established, balanced implementation timeline. Despite those facts, the Smoggy Skies Act imposes additional delays and sweeping changes that will threaten health, particularly the health of children, seniors and people with chronic disease.

The Smoggy Skies Act also reaches far beyond implementation of the current ozone standards. It permanently weakens the Clean Air Act and future air pollution health standards for all criteria pollutants. Specifically, the Smoggy Skies Act weakens implementation and enforcement of all lifesaving air pollution health standards, including those for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. It would also permanently undermine the Clean Air Act as a public health law.

The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review the science on the health impacts of carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide air pollutants every five years and update these national ambient air quality standards according to the current science. The Smoggy Skies Act would lengthen the review period of the air pollution health standards from once every five years to once every ten years for all criteria pollutants. As the science continues to evolve, the public deserves that their protections be based on the most up-to-date science, certainly not a schedule that is twice as long as they currently have under the law. The work that EPA and states do to clean up air pollution should be based on the best and most current science.

Emerging research adds crucial information to our understanding of the impacts that air pollution has on human health, and EPA should not have to wait a decade to incorporate it. For example, on March 29, 2016, a newly published study, Particulate Matter Exposure and Preterm Birth: Estimates of U.S. Attributable Burden and Economic Costs, showed new information linking particulate air pollution to nearly 16,000 preterm births per year. Under the Smoggy Skies Act, EPA would have to wait as much as a decade to consider such new evidence when setting standards. Ten years is far too long to wait to protect public health from levels of pollution that the science shows are dangerous or for EPA to consider new information.

In the 2015 review of the ozone standard, EPA examined an extensive body of scientific evidence demonstrating that ozone inflames the lungs, causing asthma attacks and resulting in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. A growing body of research indicates that ozone may also lead to central nervous system harm and may harm developing fetuses. In response to the evidence, EPA updated the ozone standards. While many of our organizations called for a more protective level, there is no doubt that the updated, 70 parts per billion standard provides greater health protections compared to the previous standard.

The Smoggy Skies Act would delay implementation of these more protective air pollution standards for at least eight years. This means eight years of illnesses and premature deaths that could have been avoided. Parents will not be told the truth about pollution in their community and states and EPA will not work to curb pollution to meet the new standards. The public has a fundamental right to know when pollution in the air they breathe or the water they drink threatens health, and Congress must not add eight years of delay to health protections and cleanup.

Furthermore, the American public overwhelmingly supports upholding these more protective limits on ozone. A 2017 poll found that by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans believe Congress should leave EPA’s updated standards in place, showing clear public opposition to the Smoggy Skies Act.

The Smoggy Skies Act would also permanently weaken implementation of the 2015 and future ozone standards. The Act would delay implementation to a date when the evidence shows that most states would meet the standard with cleanup measures already in place. It would also reduce requirements for areas with the most dangerous levels of ozone. Areas classified as being in “extreme nonattainment” of the standard would no longer need to write plans that include additional contingency measures if their initial plans fail to provide the expected pollution reductions. The Clean Air Act prioritizes reducing air pollution to protect the public’s health, but the Smoggy Skies Act opens a new opportunity for communities to avoid cleaning up, irrespective of the health impacts.

Further, the bill would greatly expand the definition of an exceptional event. Under the Clean Air Act, communities can demonstrate to EPA that an exceptional event, such as a wildfire, should not “count” in determining whether their air quality meets the national standards. This bill would recklessly expand the definition of exceptional events to include high pollution days when the air is simply stagnant-- the precise air pollution episodes the Clean Air Act was designed to combat-- and declare those bad air days as “exceptional.” Changing the accounting rules will undermine health protection and avoid pollution cleanup.

Additionally, the bill would permanently weaken the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act is one of our nation’s premier public health laws because it puts health first. The Act has a two-step process: first, EPA considers scientific evidence to decide how much air pollution is safe to breathe and sets the standard that is requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. Then, states work with EPA to develop a plan to clean up air pollution to meet the standard. Cost and feasibility are fully considered in the second phase during implementation of the standard.

This bill states that if EPA finds that “a range of levels” of an air pollutant protect public health with an adequate margin of safety, then EPA may consider technological feasibility in choosing a limit within that range. Further, the bill would interject implementation considerations, including projections of adverse economic and energy effects, into the standard setting process. These changes will permanently weaken the core health-based premise of the Clean Air Act-- protecting the public from known health effects of air pollution with a margin of safety.

These changes would reverse the intention of the Clean Air Act explicitly included by its bipartisan authors in Congress: that basing the standard on the protection of public health would push technology to develop new tools and techniques to reduce emissions. They understood that pushing the cleanup technology to meet the urgent need to protect health would help to expand job development and growth. They were correct, as the emission control industry today has helped the nation meet stronger standards in creative, cost-effective ways.

The text also explicitly states that the Smoggy Skies Act does not authorize any additional funds to be appropriated to EPA for its work carrying out the bill’s provisions. Forcing EPA to perform the additional work of implementing this bill with no additional resources could put the agency’s current, lifesaving work at further risk.

Finally, an amendment adopted in committee would eliminate key enforcement provisions under the Clean Air Act. As amended, the bill could perpetuate poor air quality in communities with the highest pollution levels indefinitely. The provision waives the obligation for states with areas heavily polluted by ozone or particulate matter to write effective plans to attain the health standards. Currently, if an area with unhealthy air fails to write an adequate plan to meet air pollution standards, EPA can impose sanctions. Because that enforcement provision exists, EPA has almost never needed to use it-- states wrote effective plans. As amended, the Smoggy Skies Act would bar EPA from using this key enforcement tool for especially polluted areas, essentially eliminating the obligation for states to write a meaningful pollution cleanup plan that can demonstrate meeting the health standards.

The Smoggy Skies Act is a sweeping attack on lifesaving standards that protect public health from air pollution. This bill is an extreme attempt to undermine our nation’s proven clean air health protections. Not only does it delay the long-overdue updated ozone standards and weaken their implementation and enforcement, it also permanently weakens the health protections against many dangerous air pollutants and the scientific basis of Clean Air Act standards. Please prioritize the health of your constituents and vote NO on the Smoggy Skies Act.
This isn't a fucking game about purity tests. This is about life and death, health or sickness. And what--if anything-- the Democratic Party stands for. 188 Democrats voted NO, but Ryan is saying the bill passed 229-199 in a bipartisan effort. Three of those scumbag, bribe-taking Blue Dogs were also co-sponsors of the bill, presumably to get a few extra bucks in their Xmas stockings this year. You might expect this kind of behavior from Republicans; that's who they are as a party. But from Democrats too? That's supposed to be OK? Back them anyway because the GOP is so bad. Tell them to emphysema patients.

Carol Shea-Porter is a normal Democrat, not a Blue Dog, not a New Dem, not from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. She's the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Asthma and Allergies Caucus. She told her constituents in New Hampshire that she's "working to raise awareness of the connection between air pollution and breathing problems. That’s why I’m so disappointed that my Republican colleagues in the House just voted for the 'Smoggy Skies Act,' which will delay badly needed restrictions that would have tamped down how much smog polluters can release into the air we all breathe. Our job is to protect children’s lungs and to stop diseases like asthma and COPD-- not to make people sick, not to make it easier for polluters."

Sam Jammal is the newest Blue America endorsee. He's running for the Orange County seat occupied by right-wing Ryan rubber stamp Ed Royce. This morning he told us that "When Donald Trump withdrew our country from the Paris Agreement, Ed Royce touted his support for clean air and clean water. It looks like once again, Ed Royce says reasonable things in public, but he votes extreme and hopes no one pays attention. Considering Ed represents the birthplace of Richard Nixon-- who created the EPA, it's ironic that Ed can't even support something as bipartisan as clean air. But this is typical Ed Royce.

"I worked in clean energy and saw first hand that we have the technology to create jobs, save consumers money and help us have cleaner air. There is no technological barrier any more. It's just politics and whether or not someone like Ed Royce can say no to big oil money and yes to innovation. What's worse is that the EPA rules are ultimately about public health. Families are paying higher out of pocket expenses to deal with respiratory illnesses thanks to air pollution. These same families are watching as the Republicans attempt to dismantle their health care. The last thing we need are further attempts to erode clean air-- it affects jobs, health care and our environment."

Derrick is the progressive candidate vying to take on anti-science nut Lamar Smith in TX-21 (an Austin-San Antonio corridor district). Smith didn't just vote for the bill, he was a key co-sponsor or it! Crowe told us that "This isn't hypothetical for me. My wife suffers from asthma. When people try to weaken air standards, it directly affects my wife's health. Everyone who thinks that this is some technical adjustment should have to sit and watch Laurie during an asthma attack.Watching someone you love struggle to breathe is terrifying. Now couple this with Smith's vote on repealing 23 million people's health insurance, which would make it harder for families to afford asthma medications and maintenance treatments. I'd like to know how many people Smith would let choke to death to make his donors happy."

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At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

The DCCC is the enemy along with the entire Republican party. The labels are b.s. - forget "progressive" and look at common sense on issues. Do we want clean air, health care, good schools, college tuition, national parks, the U.S. mail, improved infrastructure? I suspect a huge majority of the American people want these things.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Jeff Waldorf covers the DCCC issue perfectly.

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, yes, a vast majority of americans are in favor of being able to breathe.

But a majority of the 66% that vote, perhaps, won't ever vote for that. They'll vote against helping the nonwhite, nonmale, nonrich, nonchristian and the nonwealthy. That means voting for unbreathable air, undrinkable water, non-arable land, sickness, death and open sewers... just so corporations don't have to spend an extra nickel to do business cleanly.

Americans. The dumbest (white) motherfuckers on earth.


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