We all deserve to breathe clean air, but the House of Representatives today acted as if our air doesn’t need to be quite so clean.
Guided by Rep. Eric Cantor’s toxic dirty-air agenda and a host of political paybacks to dirty-industry campaign contributors, the House passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing certain clean air standards.The bill is called the TRAIN Act, H.R. 2401, and it is a train wreck. If it becomes law, it could cause 139,500 deaths due to air pollution. One of the most anti-public health bills ever considered by Congress, the TRAIN Act passed the House by a vote of 249 to 168. Read this punch-packing reaction to the bill’s passage by Earthjustice’s Marty Hayden.
This TRAIN Act was the first item in Cantor’s death package of bills designed to overturn eight life-saving clean air and hazardous waste rules by the Obama administration. While it’s terrible that it passed the House, President Barack Obama has promised to veto this bill if it gets by the Senate.
Many of us think our air in the United States is so clean that we don’t have to do anything else to protect it. But the truth is that roughly half the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. And almost 154.5 million Americans live in areas where they are exposed to harmful levels of air pollution. This is simply because industries are polluting without adequate controls.
These statistics can feel overwhelming and faraway. If you need some real-life illustrations of how damaging and even fatal this pollution can be, look no further than the communities of east Los Angeles, or Chicago’s southside, or Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, where the air pollution is causing asthma, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, emergency visits to the hospital, and even deaths. View 50 personal stories of air pollution impacts here.
This doesn’t have to be the way it is. The EPA’s recent report, The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020, found that cutting air pollution through the Clean Air Act will save $2 trillion by 2020 and prevent at least 230,000 deaths annually.
As a couple of first steps toward saving more lives and ensuring Americans are breathing healthy, safe air, Obama’s EPA has proposed a few critical new rules to reduce air pollution: The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would save 13,000 to 34,000 lives and bring in $120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits; the Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which would save 6,800 to 17,000 lives and bring in $59 billion to $140 billion worth of health and environmental benefits.
Right now, our priority as citizens who care about our lungs and our lives should be to make sure our senators oppose this bill when it enters their chamber. Please call your senators now (dial the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your senator) and tell them to squash the TRAIN Act and the rest of Cantor’s Toxic Agenda!
Also, please see how your House representative voted and take a second to either thank him/her for doing the right thing, or hold them accountable for voting for dirty air!