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A Defining Moment for EPA and America's Health

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
14 December 2010, 5:19 PM
New, hostile Congress readies attack on clean air standards

What stands between Americans and clean air isn't science, technology, or the law. It's politics. Last month, I wrote that the incoming House leadership of the new Congress is already beating the war drum in anticipation of taking down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the critical health protections it is required by law to enact.

This is a defining moment.

Earthjustice and our supporters, allies, and clients have worked tirelessly for more than a decade to secure numerous important health standards, and we are now closer than ever to realizing their substantial benefits. The politics might be hazy, but the law and the science are on our side. We are standing on a mountain of good court decisions that confirm the EPA's responsibility to issue clean air standards that protect our health.

Over the past two years, the agency has been working diligently—for the first time in quite a while—to be a credible protector of the environment. In the long-term struggle to protect all Americans' right to breathe clean air, we cannot allow short-term political pressure to change that.

The EPA's critics, however, are brazenly applying political pressure to protect the interests of big polluters by paralyzing the agency. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)—the polluter-friendly chair-to-be of the House Energy and Commerce Committee—has publicly stated that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will be summoned to testify before his committee so often that she should be given her own parking space on Capitol Hill. But Upton and his ilk are jeopardizing far more than the EPA's agenda with such ostentatious political grandstanding.

They are placing American lives at risk.

For example, two health protections related to smog and cancer-causing air pollution that the EPA is currently considering could save as many as 17,000 lives every year, as well as prevent annually more than 8,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 24,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 90,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and millions of days of missed work or school. When you consider that these standards could also save Americans more than $100 billion in health care costs every year, it's hard to imagine anything more sensible.

But big polluters and their allies have trained their crosshairs on these public health protections, claiming the tremendous benefits to society aren't as important as the modest costs they'll have to pay to operate without making people sick. It's certain that the attacks on the EPA and the laws it administers will only intensify in the coming months.

We have already seen this political fight begin to take its toll. Last week, the EPA announced its intention to delay final decisions on the two aforementioned life- and cost-saving standards that would reduce dangerous air pollution. But delaying the political fight won't succeed in making the issue less contentious. It will succeed, however, in ensuring that Americans continue to pay for air pollution with their lives, health and dollars.

The best path forward is to not shy from the fight. We certainly won't. The fight will unfold on two related fronts in the coming months: climate and health.

On Jan. 3, the EPA is expected to roll out the next phase of its efforts to curb global warming pollution. Industry groups challenged the EPA's efforts in court, but Earthjustice and our allies intervened in the case and have won the first round, allowing the first greenhouse gas regulations to go into effect. We and our allies will continue fighting in the courts, on Capitol Hill and at the White House to ensure these efforts move forward without delay. We will need your support.

The second front involves numerous upcoming health standards, including efforts to reduce tiny particulate pollution that lodges easily in people's lungs, as well as toxic air pollutants like mercury released by coal-fired power plants. Americans stand to reap tremendous benefits from these health standards, and they must move forward without delay.

Much of this work is the culmination of years, even decades, of litigation, advocacy and community engagement. Politics are transient, but the right to breathe is everlasting. We must move ahead to secure health protections that will keep us safe today and for generations to come, regardless of whether political winds are at our backs or in our faces.



The fight has only just begun!
We will ensure that the EPA is able to exercise its full powers it has been given to keep America's air clean.
If Obama won't stand up to the big polluters, then we the People will have to!!!

The legal and lobbying work to counter the unenlightened, self-centered interests that deny climate change, the importance and worth of the creation that surrounds and sustains us must go on and deserves our support. But I sense the need to become more confrontational. Lately, only the interests exemplified by Fox's bombastic bandleaders of boardroom brown-nosers get heard. That's not a tan on John Boehner! I'd urge my fellows to consider identifying the corporate supporters that oppose clean air, clean water, support for endangered species and ultimately the health of our own... and begin a LOUD and vigorous boycott of the worst offenders. Identify them publicly, stop purchasing their products, outline your action frequently to the media and online. If it's the ranchers that support killing of wolves and circumventing ESA, then let's begin a noisy boycott of beef from the states involved. Let's consider demonstrations outside the ranches or stockyards or supermarkets. But let's also build bridges, perhaps devising "wildlife safe" certification for food providers that practice or agree to more enlightened practices. And it's time to recognize that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar must go. If we need to embarrass the Obama administration, so be it. Are we willing to act on our principles, to fight for what we believe in...or let the Boehners, McConnells, Palins, Becks and Roves leash us all?

How did a smart dude like Obama pick a dim bulb like Salazar. Was he advised by those who advised Bush?

Lisa Jackson is indeed a joke. Ken Salazar is a bad, BAD joke. The shared punchline for both gags is that Obama is bought and paid for by Big energy, Big Agra, and the purveyors of urban sprawl to an even greater extent than was The Shrub. If he really wanted to, our so-called President could dismiss both these jokers and replace them with men or women who would stand up to the special intertests and do their jobs: protecting the environment & the public health. The key phrase is "if he wanted to" because it's painfully obvious that, like any whore, he has NO intention of angering the ones who own him. Earthjustice and similar organizations need to wake up and recognize that they can't blame Bush any more. He's long gone. If any one person is responsible for continued environmental degradation, it's Obama; his track record on that subject is even WORSE than Dub-Yah's. "Change," he promised? Sorry, but all I see is more of the same old self-serving hypocracy.

We strongly support the EPA and all its efforts to give us clean air and water. Obama should hire dedicated , honest people who will fight to further these good works and stop the political payoffs.

first President Obama has to work up the leadership to FIRE people at USDA and EPA

I appreciate your comments and concerns . You may already know this, but it is important to call or write your congressman and voice your concern and what you would like him/her to vote for. It is so easy to blame a president, but when you watch how congress votes on bills in the legislature you will see how they throw many bills in together just to pass each one. I thought I understood as you, how a president works, but not anymore. It just seems each time we have a president much change does not occur as we hoped for. I too become so disillusioned. I see this everywhere in the world. I suppose what really gripes me is that we all get so caught up in our beliefs that we stop listening to one another, our leaders are in their seats too long and they need to be in only 8 years, not a lifetime, and I believe because our leaders are bought by lobbyists they only work for money. Maybe we all need to get our butts out on the street and get signatures to put these concerns into a vote. Change needs to occur on many levels and it is important as citizens of this country to voice how we want change and work through the system. I don't know any other way. But it will take a lot of work.

We can all place lines in the sand between Democrates and Republicans controled government. Some are opinionated that on November 2, 2010 large corporations purchased the election? If there's any truth then large corporations now have alot more influence. As a small business long-term care facility owner I have diverified into in-home employee owed telmed vascular disease preventative health care. I do not need to work with the status quoe large insurance or pharmactical part of the "sickness business," of our current healthcare system. There are other congresssionally recognized soverign governments to work with. Likewise, the US EPA is a tail pipe emission agency to begin with. Coal burning power plants are doing more to control hazarodus air pollution then the florecent or compact light industry especially with TCLP mercury and other heavy metals. Industry needs insurance and bonding to operate is strongly encourage to be ISO14000 EMS certified. Look outside the box and prevent pollution and environmental degredation by following progressive leaders. Look at Striki grass root model of the components of a solar hydrogen economy, "check out You-Tube.under " The First Solar/ Hydrogen House located in Hopewell New Jersey or and additionally check out Humboldt University Schatz Research Center.

It seems to me that the EPA can try to arrange things so that this works against the anti-environment forces. Doesn't the EPA have to issue permits for construction of coal power plants and such? Can't Lisa Jackson inform Congress that she is arranging her schedule so that if they keep her up on Capital Hill all the time, she will not have time to issue those permits?

My partner just died of COPD. Dirty air helped cut his life short. Let us put human life before business profits, please.

I am crying for my children, and how they will live with this pollution.
I wish I lived 200 years ago, as it was a safer time for all, less chance of dying even with times being tougher.
I dont know what to tell my children, how to get them to realize what they are facing and how to get them to be self sufficient, to live from what is left of nature and how to tell them to stay away from these terrorists, no not bin ladin, but the people who we elected and pay our taxes to , you know, like Obama and Monsanto.
Those are the real terrorists, they will wind up killing more people in their lives than all the suicind bombers who ever lived.

I am crying for my children, and how they will live with this pollution.
I wish I lived 200 years ago, as it was a safer time for all, less chance of dying even with times being tougher.
I dont know what to tell my children, how to get them to realize what they are facing and how to get them to be self sufficient, to live from what is left of nature and how to tell them to stay away from these terrorists, no not bin ladin, but the people who we elected and pay our taxes to , you know, like Obama and Monsanto.
Those are the real terrorists, they will wind up killing more people in their lives than all the suicind bombers who ever lived.

What? Obama doesn't want this anymore than we do ! Give him some backup !

Lisa Jackson is a pathetic joke. She has done NOTHING for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico but compound the nightmare, followed by a mountain of lies spewing out of her mouth!

Actually, the EPA has little or no jurisdiction in the areas of enforcement that cover offshore oil drilling. That jurisdiction rests primarily with Interior, which is run by Ken Salazar, a rancher and friend to feedlot ranchers, mine owners, and oilmen. It was the utterly corrupt Bush-era Minerals Management Service (MMS) that should have been overseeing this stuff, and anyone who was paying attention in 2007-8 knows how rotten MMS was. Salazar had of course done nothing whatever to purge it; he also continues to approve mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia and tar sands fracking--two of the most environmentally destructive practices known. The EPA under Jackson, by contrast, has held the line on what is right now the single most important environmental law we have: the Clean Air Act. In particular, she has asserted the EPA's right to treat carbon dioxide and methane, the most important causes of global warming, as pollutants. The GOP in the House have as their first priority to strip EPA of that authority. Jackson needs our overwhelming tactical support against the Party of Ecocide.

Lisa Jackson is a pathetic joke. She has done NOTHING for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico but compound the nightmare, followed by a mountain of lies spewing out of her mouth!

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I have been thinking a lot lately about globalization and so-called "free-trade". And aside from all the arguments we've made against it; the loss of domestic jobs, wage suppression, corporate multi-nationalism, and all the other downsides that the elite turn a blind eye towards because these are the things that have made them filthy rich. Aside from these arguments and others, there is an aspect to this economic lie that no one ever talks about. And it goes like this:

Think about those big ships, the ones with the hundreds of cargo boxes that later get loaded on trains and trucks. Think about how big those ships are, and how many of them must be in the water all the time in order to bring us all the goods that we do not make here anymore. Think about the amount of fuel these ships must use, and the trains and the trucks that have to bring those goods across country from one port on one coast to post-industrial towns and cities around the country. Then think about "global peak oil". How many years of fuel is left in the ground. Think about how those projections have probably been way too conservative since the first of those big ships began to steam across the oceans. Then think about our military abroad. Think about how much fuel they must use in order to control the parts of the world we need to provide us with that fuel. It's the "mother" of all catch-22s.

Our leaders promised us affordability and increased leisure through free-trade. They promised us a richer life. Yet in reality they have brought us our doom ever closer and ever faster with their lies and false promises.

Someone should plot a graph, a time-line, comparing the estimates for global fossil fuel supply in relation to our current use and growth, including the military, with that of how it would have been had we rejected the WTO, NAFTA and all the other trade agreements that stripped us of our manufacturing and economic independence. I can promise you that down the road our grandchildren in their growing hate for our generation will look at this.

And finally, because after-all, I am commenting on an environmental blog, think about this same paradox, the accelerated use of fossil fuels brought on by our selfish economic policies, and apply that to fossil fuel emissions...

In our haste to imagine we were making a better world for our great, great grandchildren, we have likely doomed the planet generations earlier than was necessary.

And a paradox it is.

Because only this kind of selfishness could exacerbate the very problem that we are simultaneously putting off in every way imaginable. We, are indeed chasing our own tails, and we will eat ourselves eventually.

It is the best interest of ALL of us, especially if you love your childeren! Lisa Jackson has my full support and if she needs vallet service to represent the American public on this issue,... she's got it! This is NOT an issue that is negotiable and it will not go away! The ENVIRONMENTAL COST must be taken into account! Those interested in profiting and polluting, should live under the pollution they create, until they change their mind. Hope the AIR and WATER are pure where you are. Have a great day! : )

Remember the bush administration ignored subpeonas and claimed presidential prerogative. Congress couldn't even investigate the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Lisa should do the same. If EPA is paralyzed it will be because the administration is complicit.

Some say it's intentional, that it's part of a plan to slowly depopulate the world because it's so overcrowded. If that's the case, it's a stupid plan because the damage done to the earth will outlast all of us.

I sure hope they will all move forward, those statistics sound like for people that Smoke ! So basically they are forcing people to get sick ,and I just find it so disturbing that any of the people we have hired, or elected to protect us, would think of anything but saving our lives. Instead they think of thier careers, and profits.
As far as the companies they should pay huge fines, and all medical costs, the C.E.O and upper management, should go to jail, and the companies should operate in a safe, and people friendly manner, reguardless of the cost ! I am so tired of these people thinking they need to make so much damn money ! Why can't they be Happy with 20million $$ ,instead of thinking they need 50 million $$.....Stupid and Greedy....Killers !

I suggest I. Wallerstein's "World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction" to get a better understanding of why the corporations cannot do other than what they are doing (polluting us to death). We are at the end of an age (global capitalism), because the Western model of modernity is based on the endless accumulation of wealth, which is clearly not a sustainable path. We need to be working the transition.

Until the Earth becomes uninhabitable, humankind will keep rendering it more so. We all drink, eat, and breathe a hearty carcinogenic blend of man made toxins, that have steadily increased in concentration in the environment, since the advent of the Man Made Chemical Age beginning about 1930, when PCB's were developed for commercial uses. Welcome to the first act of the toxic demise of the human race.The Republican because of their anti-science attitudes will spped up the process. The Democrats have not been slouches and they too have been delinquent in changing course`as rapidly as needed.

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