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Day Three of Congress: Public Health Under Attack By Polluters

Only three days after Republicans took over the House of Representatives, Americans are at risk of losing critical, life-saving pollution protections. Since they took their seats in the 112th Congress, some elected representatives have made shooting down or slowing down these protective pollution controls their top priority.

Today, House Republicans announced a resolution that seeks to undo U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to control toxic emissions from cement plants. EPA scientists have estimated the rules would prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths and thousands of heart and respiratory incidents, and save billions of dollars in health costs each year. Read more about this deadly proposal in Congress.

Also today, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced two separate bills to delay and block EPA action on global warming pollution, scientifically found to endanger human health and welfare.

And, yesterday, a group of House members, all Republicans with one exception, introduced a bill that also would block the EPA from being able to follow through on its global warming pollution controls, which were required by the Supreme Court in 2007.

It's shocking and bewildering to see members of Congress take their seats and immediately come out swinging at pollution protections that SAVE OUR LIVES and keep us safe and healthy.

But while some Republican House members from big-polluter industry states were acting all to eager to put their big-money special interests ahead of the public interest, there was one bit of reassurance today that someone in those hallowed marble hallways is looking out for our health and well-being.

"I will use every single tool available to me as chairman of this committee and as a senator from California to oppose any legislative efforts that threatens the health or the safety or the well being of the people of this great nation,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today, as reported in Politico.

“So when the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee says EPA cannot pass by regulation what Congress failed to pass by law, let me correct him—Congress passed our Clean Air laws, Republican Presidents signed them, and those are the laws the EPA is following," said Sen. Boxer, as reported in The New York Times.

Instead of using their taxpayer-funded time to legislate blocks and delays on public health protections—which by the way are good for our nation's competitiveness in the global economy, are good for innovation, are good for our national security, are good for growing the kind of businesses that will fuel our economic growth and sustain us well into the future—the "leaders" who proposed this legislation today should be spending their time writing policies that make us even healthier, stronger, more prosperous, more competitive and more innovative. It takes real leadership to do that, and that can't be bought with big-industry lobbying money.