Sheldon WhitehouseSen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.): “Someone should be standing up for children’s lungs.”Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Yesterday, I noted that several polluter-supported members of Congress are introducing legislation to “throttle” the Environmental Protection Agency, which would sacrifice much-needed safeguards by putting the profits of corporate polluters at the top of their agenda.

Fortunately, some members of Congress are just as determined to make sure the EPA can keep doing the job it has for the last 40 years — protecting the health of all Americans by cracking down on corporate polluters and the life-threatening air pollution they recklessly dump.

As E&E News reports, several Democratic senators took a hard-line stand against proposals to limit the EPA’s ability to protect public health. Kudos to these members for standing up to the polluter-driven agenda:

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  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.): “There is a case to be made that, in the contest between corporate profits and children’s lungs, someone should be standing up for children’s lungs.”
  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): “People on the other side can talk about costs [of EPA safeguards]. What’s the cost of a life? What’s the cost of a disability? … We’re not going to cower in a corner.”
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  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) pledged to “do everything we can to prevent the taking away of the responsibility of EPA to protect our environment and our health.”
  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): “I never defend — I always attack … If they want to repeal EPA [regulations] and stuff like that, I think we ought to go after them. I say, give them rope.”

And as Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Politico: “I will use every single tool to me as chairman of this committee and as a senator from California to oppose any legislative effort that threatens the health or safety of the well being of the people of this great nation.”

There is no question that making sure the EPA can do its job without polluter-driven interference is essential for the protection of all our health. As I’ve mentioned before, hundreds of public health and other organizations, including the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics told Congress in a letter [PDF] that:

Over the coming years the EPA will be fulfilling its duty to reduce the smog and soot pollution, air toxics, and global warming pollution that are the cause of these public health threats. We urge you to fully support the EPA in fulfilling this responsibility. Doing so is quite literally a matter of life and death for tens of thousands of people and will mean the difference between chronic debilitating illness or a healthy life for hundreds of thousands more.

What’s the bottom line?

As Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA) said, “We urge members of Congress to reject the pleas from polluters and continue to support the Act and the EPA’s ability to protect the air we breathe.”

You can join ALA in urging your representatives to stand up for clean air and stand against polluters by signing on to their letter of support for the EPA. Here’s one for medical and health professionals, and here’s one for regular folks.