air pollution - NPS photoThe U.S. Senate yesterday rejected the House of Representative’s attempt to roll back some of the nation’s laws protecting public health and the environment. The House’s continuing resolution (HR1) would have stopped the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a U.S. Supreme Court order and curbing carbon dioxide and other dangerous greenhouse gas pollutants under the Clean Air Act.


The bill also aimed to remove Endangered Species Act protections from the gray wolf; loosen restrictions on toxic mercury pollution and mountaintop-removal mining; open up public lands to questionable activities; and slow progress to curb climate change and protect the public from dirty air and water.

“The Senate’s rejection today of the House’s backdoor move to repeal portions of the Clean Air Act and other laws was a vote for protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, public health and wildlife,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “We call on the Senate to reject all attacks on the Clean Air Act, which saves lives, spurs technological innovation and creates jobs.”

Last week, the EPA released a study that found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone; the economic benefits of those programs will reach approximately $2 trillion by 2020.

Although the House funding bill failed in the Senate, concerns remain about repeated future congressional efforts to impede progress on tackling climate change and prematurely lift Endangered Species Act protection from wolves, which today survive in only 5 percent of their historic habitat.

“We’re still deeply concerned by moves to allow politicians, rather than scientists, to determine whether Endangered Species Act protections should be stripped from wolves or any other species,” said Noah Greenwald, director of the Center’s Endangered Species Program.

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