Don’t Weaken the Clean Air Act

The Gasoline Regulations Act (H.R. 4471) should be known as the ‘Gutting Air Standard Protections Act’ – or ‘GASP Act’ – because it denies the public the right to breathe clean and healthy air. There is no question that this bill by Representatives Whitfield (KY) and Barrow (GA) and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee will gut the Clean Air Act and harm children’s health. It will not impact fuel prices, but it will cause more smog, more childhood asthma attacks, and other health implications for people with lung disease.

HR 4471 would repeal the health basis of the Clean Air Act, block clean air safeguards, and hand the scientific process of setting healthy air standards over to economists, accountants, and financial analysts. This has been on the wish list of Big Oil for more than a decade.

The American Lung Association supports the Clean Air Act that sets air pollution standards based on health science. This bill creates new bureaucracies to delay and block health protections.

Those in Congress doing the bidding of Big Oil are woefully out of step with the views of the public on this issue. In a recent survey, conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican firm Perception Insight for the American Lung Association, nearly three-quarters of likely voters (73 percent) nationwide support the view that it is possible to protect public health through stronger air quality standards while achieving a healthy economy, over the notion that we must choose between public health or a strong economy. This overwhelming support includes 78 percent of independents, 60 percent of Republicans, and 62 percent of conservatives. In addition, when asked if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be setting additional standards for cleaner gasoline and vehicles, 60 percent of likely voters want stronger standards.

The Clean Air Act has a proven track record of success, preventing an estimated 160,000 premature deaths in the United States in 2010 and reducing avoidable medical visits that drive up health care costs for those who are already struggling to get by in a weak economy. To throw it all away now at the behest of Big Oil is outrageous.

We urge all members of Congress to vote no on the ‘GASP Act’ and stand up for the health of our children. Those who do not are standing with Big Oil. The Lung Association urges a no vote on this dangerous bill.

 

Al Rizzo, MD, is Chair of the American Lung Association Board of Directors

 

 

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