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For Immediate Release, February 3, 2011

Contact:  Kassie Siegel,, (760) 366-2232 x 302

After Closed-door Meeting With Major Polluters, Upton Moves to Repeal Clean Air Act Protections

WASHINGTON— Following a closed-door meeting with major polluters last month, new House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has unveiled draft legislation to repeal Clean Air Act protections aimed at slowing the buildup of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution, a major contributor to global warming. The bill is yet another attack on the Clean Air Act, which for decades has dramatically reduced dangerous pollutants like mercury and lead, prevented millions of illnesses such as asthma and cancer, and saved tens of thousands of lives.

“Representative Upton is joining Senators Barrasso and Rockefeller in promoting polluters’ profits over public health. Rather than do what’s right for people and the environment, they want to repeal Clean Air Act protections and give big polluters a free pass to dump unlimited amounts of CO2 into our air,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

Rep. Upton’s legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from following through on an order of the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce greenhouse pollutants such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide under the Clean Air Act. The legislation would repeal steps the agency has already taken to reduce carbon pollution from our nation’s biggest polluters such as refineries and power plants.

“For four decades, the Clean Air Act has held polluters accountable, saved $100 billion in health costs, prevented illnesses and most importantly saved tens of thousands of lives,” said Siegel. “The technology exists to reduce carbon pollution now. New and updated Clean Air Act standards will save lives, save imperiled species, spur technological innovation and create jobs. And yet, some in Congress want to ignore that progress and move us backwards.”

Upton’s bill and others aimed at delaying action on climate change directly contradict leading scientists’ recommendations on dealing with this global crisis. Last week, 18 of the nation’s leading climate researchers wrote to Congress highlighting the urgency of the risks and consequences of delaying action on global warming. They said: “We want to assure you that the science is strong and that there is nothing abstract about the risks facing our nation. Our coastal areas are now facing increasing dangers from rising sea levels and storm surges; the southwest and southeast are increasingly vulnerable to drought; other regions will need to prepare for massive flooding from the extreme storms of the sort being experienced with increasing frequency….  Climate change is underway and the severity of the risks we face is compounded by delay.”

Upton’s discussion draft legislation follows legislation introduced earlier in the week by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to exempt greenhouse gas pollution from regulation under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and other bedrock environmental laws, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) bill to delay EPA’s implementation of Clean Air Act protections to reduce carbon emissions.

To learn more, read the Center’s new “Myths and Realities About the Clean Air Act” along with a fact sheet on the Act and frequently asked questions about how the national pollution cap provision of the Act can be used to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

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