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Rep. John Lewis Votes Against Damaging Environmental Legislation

October 6, 2011
Press Release

Today the House is scheduled to vote on two bills that setback America’s attempts to provide pure, clean natural resources for all of its citizens.  The Clean Air Act had been one of the most effective pieces of environmental legislation ever passed, and its success demonstrated that environmental responsibility and economic progress could operate hand-in-hand.  When Republicans have held the majority in Congress, however, they have continuously assaulted this bill to alleviate any environmental responsibility by private industry and allow abuses which have been widely condemned.

The two bills, H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act and H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act  are similar.  They both nullify EPA requirements for industrial boilers, incinerators, and cement plants to reduce their emissions of toxic air pollutants, including well-known extremely harmful chemicals like mercury.  They both weaken EPA’s ability to issue standards that could revive a mandate for cleaner air, allow polluting plants to indefinitely delay reductions in toxic air pollution, and set no deadline for compliance.  Altogether 9,100 lives are lost for every year these pollution reductions are delayed.


Rep. John Lewis will vote against both of these bills.  He made this statement:


“People have a right to know what is in the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat.  Clear air, pure water, and clean food are basic human rights.  They are provisions offered freely by a power higher than any government or corporation.  It is not fair, it is not right, it is not just for private industry to disturb access to those basic human needs.  And it is the purpose of government to insure public access to these important resources.  If we use air, water or land for our own private gain, then we have a responsibility to replenish those resources so that others can also use them. 


“Since the implementation of the Clean Air Act, our economy has experienced some of its greatest periods of productivity and prosperity.  The idea that these requirements kill the ability of private industry to turn a profit are simply not true, especially when compliance has been delayed for decades.  In some cases industries have had as long as 30 years to retool and gradually work in greater compliance to these regulations.  They have made no progress.  Now that it seems these industries might finally have to become compliant, they want to change the rules and gut the government agency responsible to regulate.  However, changing the rules will not clean the hands or clear the conscience of a nation which allows thousands and millions of people to die from toxic poisons that could be controlled.   I hope the President will keep his promise to veto these bills if they make it to his desk.”   ###