The Skywriter

House members side with Big Oil and Dirty Coal to attack Clean Air Act


House members side with Big Oil and Dirty Coal to attack Clean Air Act


The Clean Air Act is still facing extreme attacks in Congress, even as momentum builds for a comprehensive climate and energy bill in the Senate. In fact many of these attacks, collectively dubbed 'Dirty Air Acts,' are currently flying under the radar, especially in the House of Representatives. While climate advocates turn their focus to the Senate process, many lobbyists representing Big Oil and Dirty Coal are working quietly but intently behind the scenes to lure members onto a whole slew of anti-science attacks on the Clean Air Act.

To date, seven different legislative attacks have been introduced into the House. And thanks to the efforts (and campaign contributions) of Big Oil and Dirty Coal, a few more members seem to be signing onto the proposals each week. As of today, a total of 193 House members support at least one of the Dirty Air Acts. That total includes 33 House Democrats and 13 House members who voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) which passed the House last June. Democrats like Steve Kagan (D-WI) and Zach Space (D-OH), both of whom voted for ACES, have signed onto the anti-science bills. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), a key swing vote who is running in this November's election for a seat in the Senate, has signed on, too.

These attacks seek to undermine the 2007 ruling in Massachusetts vs. EPA that greenhouse gases must be regulated as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The Dirty Air Acts fly in the face of the scientific finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and, if successful, the bills would block the fast transition to a clean energy economy that our country so badly needs.

In particular, most of the Dirty Air Acts would block enforcement of a nation-wide "cars rule" which is set to be finalized next week. The cars rule is long-overdue and will give a real boost to the auto industry by providing market certainty and encouraging innovation, undoubtedly bolstering American competitiveness. Automakers strongly support the cars rule; they have been saying for years that they prefer a single national emissions standard over the patchwork of state regulations currently in place.

The Dirty Air Acts will also prevent regulation of old, dirty power plants, the single largest source of global warming pollution in the U.S. Old "clunker" coal plants must be required to reduce their emissions and update their pollution control technology in order to level the energy playing field and provide an incentive for clean energy businesses to invest in new projects. No climate bill introduced in Congress thus far includes sufficient regulation of Big Coal, which makes the Clean Air Act doubly important. The Clean Air Act is absolutely necessary if we are to start phasing out coal plants fast enough to meet necessary emissions reduction targets.

The House Dirty Air Acts are complimented by two similar proposals in the Senate sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). There are also rumors that the Clean Air Act may be handcuffed in the forthcoming Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill. The attack on so many fronts is due to a well-funded effort by Big Oil and Dirty Coal to fight the Clean Air Act (.pdf) in as many ways as possible. This is what we're up against:

It is no surprise that Big Oil and Dirty Coal are fighting against a law that would hold them accountable and discourage U.S. consumption of oil and coal. What is shocking is that some members of Congress, several of whom support putting a cap on carbon emissions and jump-starting the clean energy economy, are getting duped by fear-mongering lobbyists.

If you want to find out whether your members of Congress is sponsoring a Dirty Air Act, check the Library of Congress to see if they are co-sponsoring any of the following legislation:

  • H.R. 391
  • H.R. 4396
  • H.J. Res 66
  • H.R. 4572
  • H.J. Res 76
  • H.J. Res 77
  • H.R. 4753
  • S.J. Res 26
  • S. 3072
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