Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
For the first time in the 40 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 Feb.17, in a 250-177 vote, the House of Representatives approved an amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) 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 percent reduction, and total hydrocarbons by 10,600 tons annually, an 83 percent 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 [PDF]: 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.
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: Robert Aderholt (R), Spencer Bachus (R), Jo Bonner (R), Mo Brooks (R), Martha Roby (R), and Mike Rogers (R)
Alaska: Don Young (R)
Arizona: Jeff Flake (R), Trent Franks (R), Paul Gosar (R), Ben Quayle (R), and David Schweikert (R)
Arkansas: Rick Crawford (R), Timothy Griffin (R), Mike Ross (D), and Steve Womack (R)
California: Brian Bilbray (R), Mary Bono Mack (R), Ken Calvert (R), John Campbell (R), Dennis Cardoza (D), Jim Costa (D), Jeff Denham (R), David Dreier (R), Elton Gallegly (R), Wally Herger (R), Duncan Hunter (R), Darrell Issa (R), Jerry Lewis (R), Dan Lungren (R), Kevin McCarthy (R), Tom McClintock (R), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R), Gary Miller (R), Devin Nunes (R), Dana Rohrabacher (R), and Ed Royce (R)
Colorado: Mike Coffman (R), Cory Gardner (R), Douglas Lamborn (R), and Scott Tipton (R)
Florida: Sandra Adams (R), Gus Bilirakis (R), Vern Buchanan (R), Ander Crenshaw (R), Mario Diaz-Balart (R), Connie Mack (R), John Mica (R), Jeff Miller (R), Rich Nugent (R), Bill Posey (R), David Rivera (R), Tom Rooney (R), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), Dennis Ross (R), Steve Southerland (R), Cliff Stearns (R), Daniel Webster (R), and Allen West (R)
Georgia: John Barrow (D), Paul Broun (R), Phil Gingrey (R), Tom Graves (R), Jack Kingston (R), Tom Price (R), Austin Scott (R), Lynn Westmoreland (R), and Robert Woodall (R)
Idaho: Raul Labrador (R) and Michael Simpson (R)
Illinois: Judy Biggert (R), Jerry Costello (D), Bob Dold (R), Randy Hultgren (R), Adam Kinzinger (R), Dan Lipinski (D), Donald Manzullo (R), Peter Roskam (R), Bobby Schilling (R), John Shimkus (R), and Joe Walsh (R)
Indiana: Larry Bucshon (R), Dan Burton (R), Joe Donnelly (D), Mike Pence (R), Todd Rokita (R), Marlin Stutzman (R), and Todd Young (R)
Iowa: Steve King (R) and Tom Latham (R)
Kansas: Tim Huelskamp (R), Lynn Jenkins (R), Mike Pompeo (R), and Kevin Yoder (R)
Kentucky: Geoff Davis (R), Brett Guthrie (R), Hal Rogers (R), and Ed Whitfield (R)
Louisiana: Rodney Alexander (R), Charles Boustany (R), Bill Cassidy (R), John Fleming (R), Jeff Landry (R), and Steve Scalise (R)
Maryland: Roscoe Bartlett (R) and Andy Harris (R)
Michigan: Justin Amash (R), Dan Benishek (R), Dave Camp (R), Bill Huizenga (R), Thaddeus McCotter (R), Candice Miller (R), Mike Rogers (R), Fred Upton (R), and Tim Walberg (R)
Minnesota: Michele Bachmann (R), Chip Cravaack (R), John Kline (R), Erik Paulsen (R), and Collin Peterson (D)
Mississippi: Gregg Harper (R), Alan Nunnelee (R), and Steven Palazzo (R)
Missouri: W. Todd Akin (R), Jo Ann Emerson (R), Sam Graves (R), Vicky Hartzler (R), Billy Long (R), and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)
Montana: Dennis Rehberg (R)
Nebraska: Jeff Fortenberry (R), Adrian Smith (R), and Lee Terry (R)
Nevada: Shelley Berkley (D), Joe Heck (R), and Dean Heller (R)
New Hampshire: Frank Guinta (R)
New Jersey: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R), Scott Garrett (R), and Jon Runyan (R)
New Mexico: Steve Pearce (R)
New York: Ann Marie Buerkle (R), Chris Gibson (R), Michael Grimm (R), Richard Hanna (R), Nan Hayworth (R), Peter King (R), and Tom Reed (R)
North Carolina: Howard Coble (R), Renee Ellmers (R), Virginia Foxx (R), Walter Jones (R), Larry Kissell (D), Patrick McHenry (R), and Sue Myrick (R)
North Dakota: Rick Berg (R)
Ohio: Steve Austria (R), Steve Chabot (R), Bob Gibbs (R), Jim Renacci (R), Bill Johnson (R), Jim Jordan (R), Steven LaTourette (R), Bob Latta (R), Jean Schmidt (R), Steve Stivers (R), Pat Tiberi (R), and Mike Turner (R)
Oklahoma: Dan Boren (D), Tom Cole (R), James Lankford (R), Frank Lucas (R), and John Sullivan (R)
Oregon: Kurt Schrader (D) and Greg Walden (R)
Pennsylvania: Jason Altmire (D), Lou Barletta (R), Mark Critz (D), Charles Dent (R), Mike Fitzpatrick (R), Jim Gerlach (R), Tim Holden (D), Mike Kelly (R), Tom Marino (R), Pat Meehan (R), Tim Murphy (R), Joseph Pitts (R), Todd Platts (R), Bill Shuster (R), and Glenn Thompson (R)
South Carolina: Jeff Duncan (R), Trey Gowdy (R), Mick Mulvaney (R), Tim Scott (R), and Joe Wilson (R)
South Dakota: Kristi Noem (R)
Tennessee: Diane Black (R), Marsha Blackburn (R), Scott DesJarlais (R), John Duncan (R), Stephen Fincher (R), Chuck Fleischmann (R), and Phil Roe (R)
Texas: Joe Barton (R), Kevin Brady (R), Michael Burgess (R), Francisco Canseco (R), John Carter (R), Mike Conaway (R), Henry Cuellar (D), John Culberson (R), Bill Flores (R), Louie Gohmert (R), Kay Granger (R), Al Green (D), Ralph Hall (R), Jeb Hensarling (R), Sam Johnson (R), Kenny Marchant (R), Michael McCaul (R), Pete Olson (R), Ron Paul (R), Ted Poe (R), Randy Neugebauer (R), Pete Sessions (R), Lamar Smith (R), and Mac Thornberry (R)
Utah: Rob Bishop (R) and Jason Chaffetz (R)
Virginia: Eric Cantor (R), J. Randy Forbes (R), Bob Goodlatte (R), Morgan Griffith (R), Robert Hurt (R), E. Scott Rigell (R), and Rob Wittman (R)
Washington: Doc Hastings (R), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R), and Dave Reichert (R)
West Virginia: Shelley Capito (R), David McKinley (R), and Nick Rahall (D)
Wisconsin: Sean Duffy (R), Ron Kind (D), Tom Petri (R), Reid Ribble (R), Paul Ryan (R), and James Sensenbrenner (R)
Wyoming: Cynthia 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: Charlie Bass (N.H.), Timothy Johnson (Ill.), Leonard Lance, (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Frank Wolf (Va.), and Bill Young (Fla.). (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.