That high-pitched whistling is the sound of EPA chief Lisa P. Jackson's hand knifing through the air on the way to delivering a righteous slap upside the head of the GOP. Here are the money quotes from her editorial in yesterday's L.A. Times, in which she patiently explains that the Grand Ol' Party wants to kill jobs by blocking critical air pollution regulations.

Using the economy as cover, and repeating unfounded claims that "regulations kill jobs," they have pushed through an unprecedented rollback of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and our nation's waste-disposal laws, all of which have successfully protected our families for decades.

If the house succeeds, says Jackson, it will mean the sickening or deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.

This is not hyperbole. The link between health issues and pollution is irrefutable. Mercury is a neurotoxin that affects brain development in unborn children and young people. Lead has similar effects in our bodies. Soot, composed of particles smaller across than a human hair, is formed when fuels are burned and is a direct cause of premature death. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to the ozone alert days when seniors, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems are at serious risk if they do nothing more dangerous than step outside and breathe the air.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The irony here is that the amendments to the Clean Air Act the GOP is trying to roll back were originally passed in 1990 with a bipartisan consensus. What a difference 20 years makes. Nü-GOP intransigence will cost us billions:

By contrast, the nation's first-ever standards for mercury and other air toxic pollutants which the EPA will finalize this fall — and which the Republican leadership aims to block — are estimated to create 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term jobs in the utility sector through modernizing power plants. And the savings in health benefits are estimated to be up to $140 billion per year by 2016.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.