Today was an exceptionally bad day in the history of environmental legislation.
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401) by a vote of 249 to 169.
The TRAIN Act is a sweeping anti-clean air bill that blocks many critical public health safeguards. Among its worst offenses is that it indefinitely delays two important and long-awaited air pollution standards – the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
The TRAIN Act would delay those two standards until 2018 at the earliest, and cost about 125,000 American lives.
And as I mentioned earlier, the delay could be indefinite.
This was no less than a fight about the integrity of the Clean Air Act, and clean air lost.
The air pollution standards in question would reduce the amount of smog, soot, mercury and acid gases that are in the air we all breathe.
Opponents of these common-sense rules make the patently false argument that we can’t have both clean air and a strong economy. Actually, analysis has shown that the economic benefits of enforcing the Clean Air Act outweigh the costs 30 to 1. The same protections that the TRAIN Act strips have been widely supported by responsible corporations. Companies across the country are eagerly waiting to supply the equipment to achieve these new clean air goals – and create jobs in the process — while utilities are sitting on billions in cash that could be put to work
But today, the House showed that it has bought the false argument that we need to choose between protecting lives and creating jobs. House members made a stark choice, and put pollution over children’s health.
Some of the House members voting against healthy air today may really believe the misleading notion that public health protections kill jobs. But many are old enough to know better – because they voted in favor of these same common-sense environmental rules two decades ago. And they saw that smart regulations cut pollution ahead of schedule and at a fraction of the estimated cost – and create jobs in the process. Yet these same members are now voting against the successful regulations they championed in 1990.
Now it is up to the Senate to stop this destructive bill. Hopefully, our Senators will understand that clean air saves American lives.
But just in case, you should call your Senators and remind them how much clean air means to you.