Try this the next time you go camping at your favorite state or national park: dump into your campsite’s fire pit a few tires, a little plastic, a dash of chemical solvents and some random industrial waste—then strike a match and let the inferno begin.
Oh sure, you’ll be sending toxic pollutants into the air but, hey, when the ranger comes by and asks you if you’re crazy, just tell him that you’re taking your cue from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Today, that committee passed two bills that, if signed into law, would rewrite the Clean Air Act and threaten the health of the American people.
The first bill, H.R. 2250, alters the Clean Air Act to allow the unfettered burning of tires, plastics, chemical solvents and other industrial wastes at on-site power plants, also known as industrial boilers.
The companies operating the boilers would not be required to control, monitor or report the resulting toxic air pollution. In short, the bill eliminates health safeguards that protect communities from mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxic pollutants emitted by thousands of industrial boilers nationwide.
The second bill, H.R. 2681, would remove Clean Air Act protections originally designed to prevent air pollution from cement plants. The bill would nix existing control requirements and encourage cement companies to burn tires, plastics, and other waste without controlling or monitoring the associated pollution.
If the bills become law, scientists estimate that in the United States between 3,400 and 9,000 premature deaths would occur annually due to respiratory diseases. The pollution generated by industrial boilers and cement kilns is linked with cancer, birth defects, and developmental damage in children.
Earthjustice’s legislative policy team is working hard to educate members of Congress on the incredible danger these bills pose to the American public, and we’re asking all of our supporters to contact their representatives and urge them to vote NO on these health-threatening bills when they’re considered on the House floor.
PLUS: Check out Earthjustice’s list of some of the boilers and cement plants that would get a free pass to pollute if the bills become law. Is one of them near your community? And I don’t pose that question in some scare-tactic, evening-news-anchorman way—when I looked at the list I found a company burning plastic film waste in Mojave, Calif., just a few miles from the small town where I grew up and where my family still lives. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, when a congressional committee passes a bill to allow toxic pollution to spew into my family’s community, I feel a responsibility to take action and express my opposition to my representative.