EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 6, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HAHN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment.

By the way, I believe we should be alarmist; and I am an alarmist, and maybe that's because I'm a mother, maybe that's because I'm a grandmother, and maybe that's because I represent Los Angeles, which has some of the worst air in their country.

Just last year, in California, we had 2,400 deaths because of cargo-related pollution. We're paying for the costs of people all over this country getting goods on time in their local stores. Because of cargo-related pollution, there is about 350,000 days of lost school.

That is a real problem for this country. Pollution does impact our children. Pollution does impact their lives. We know even there is a million days of lost work, lost productivity in this country because of pollution-related illnesses in the workplace.

I'm for this amendment because the underlying bill nullifies EPA's rules to require boilers and incinerators to reduce their emissions of toxic mercury. And this comes in the wake of a bill to nullify EPA's rules to clean up cement kilns and another bill to nullify EPA's rules to clean up power plants.

Just within the last month, my colleagues on the other side have pushed legislation to let the Nation's largest sources of toxic mercury pollution off the hook for cleaning up their emissions. And they defend this policy by pointing to these industry studies about the costs of complying with these rules.

One study that gets cited over and over is a study by the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners, or CIBO. This study, by the way, has been completely discredited. For example, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service examined this study and concluded: ``the base of CIBO's analysis is flawed. As a result, little credence can be placed in CIBO's estimate of job losses.''

They also cite a study by the American Forest & Paper Association concluding that the boiler rules will cost jobs.

Mr. Chairman, Dr. Charles Kolstad, chair of the department of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reviewed this analysis and said: ``If I were grading this, I would give it an F. The economics is all wrong.''

Dr. Kolstad described the methods as ``fundamentally flawed.'' And he said that, as a result, the jobs estimates were ``completely invalid.''

We know that the National Academy of Sciences and independent public health experts around the world have proven time and again that mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that harms the developing brains of infants, leading to learning disabilities, attention deficits, behavioral problems, and a range of other problems.

This amendment is straightforward. It states that the bill does not stop EPA from taking action to clean up toxic air pollution from an industrial boiler or incinerator if that facility is emitting mercury or other toxic pollutants that are damaging babies' developing brains. Who can vote against this?

You know, you talk about jobs. My colleague, Mrs. Miller, earlier talked about jobs and the economy and the cost of the regulations. But at what price do we have to pay for the next generation's health and quality of life? And by the way, the last I checked, adding more pollution into the air is not a jobs plan.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. HAHN. Mr. Chairman, today I'm offering an amendment that will preserve the critical air pollution protections for the places that they are needed most. For the people in my district, air pollution is a major health problem. The Los Angeles region always is near the top of the Nation's worst air quality rankings. Unfortunately, the people of my district don't need to read the statistics from the American Lung Association to know that there's a pollution problem in our communities.

They see it in the dark soot that seeps into the homes of families living near the port in Wilmington. They see it in the labored breathing of a little girl in Lomita staying home from school because of asthma. They see it in the tears of loved ones in San Pedro burying someone lost before their time to cancer or lung disease.

But the statistics are there too. In Los Angeles, 6 to 7 percent of all children have asthma--higher than the national average, and disproportionately impacting minority children. When our kids can't run around outside to exercise, when they're missing school with asthma, we're creating all sorts of other health and educational deficits.

Los Angeles has recognized its air quality problems. Since the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, we've made dramatic air quality improvements. In the last decade, we've managed to reduce particulate pollution levels in Los Angeles by 40 percent. We cannot afford to go backwards. That's why I'm offering this amendment today.

My amendment would ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency will keep their higher standards of clean air protections for the 10 metropolitan areas with the worst air quality. The American Lung Society lists the 10 worst regions with year-round particulate matter.

They are Bakersfield-Delano in California; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside in California; Visalia-Porterville in California; Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale in Arizona; Hanford-Corcoran in California; Fresno-Madera in California; Pittsburgh-New Castle in Pennsylvania; Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman in Alabama; Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana; Modesto in California; and Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg in Kentucky and Indiana.

I believe that the underlying bill is a giant step backwards for those communities and for the air quality and environment of people living in this country. My amendment solely focuses on trying to continue to protect people in communities with the worst air quality standards. These communities cannot afford to have lower standards that will result in more asthma, more cancer.

By protecting our public health, we will not lose jobs. It's a false premise that to create jobs we need to hurt our Nation's environment and health. For example, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were able to improve air quality and create jobs and industry. These ports are the economic engine of this country. I call them ``America's ports.'' About 44 percent of all the cargo in this country comes through those ports.

A lot of people said you can't have clean air and good jobs, but let me tell you what really happened. We cut port pollution by 70 percent since 2005 without losing a single job. I'll say that again: a 70 percent reduction in pollution at the cost of zero jobs. In fact, the green industry jobs were spawned, creating more jobs.

Our more vigorous environmental standards in California aren't stopping the facilities in my district from thriving. That's why I find it so upsetting that, under the banner of protecting jobs, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are moving to delay or destroy the protections that ensure our children can grow up breathing clean air.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim making our air dirtier is a way to stimulate the economy, but a peer-reviewed Cal State, Fullerton study found that dirty air in the costs residents $22 billion a year in health costs, premature deaths, lost days of work, lost days of school--$22 billion a year wasted because of dirty air.

I reject the false choice between good jobs and clean air. We've already proven that they can go hand in hand with the Clean Air Action Plan at the Port of Los Angeles.

I also want to add that environmental regulations are not topping the list of problems that small businesses in my community are facing. Last week, I met with over 50 small businesses, and they said they need more access to capital, not less regulation.

I yield back the balance of my time.