House GOP Ramps up War on Public Health

Aug 1, 2013 Issues: Energy, Environment, Water

Washington, D.C.—Today, in a mostly partisan vote, House Republicans passed H.R. 1582, the Blocking Public Health Protections Act, by 232 to 181 over the strong objection of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) and in the face of a veto threat from the White House.

This is the latest in a strong of messaging bills, offered by the House GOP, which assert that regulation in any form is harmful—even if it’s meant to protect air and water quality and public health and has had bipartisan support in the past.  This measure would significantly delay or block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from fulfilling its mandate to protect the environment and public health, and it would further hinder the EPA by giving the Department of Energy (DOE) the authority to veto any EPA rules that are “energy-related” and cost more than $1 billion.  It also provides no time period over which the $1 billion cost must accrue, allowing all rules that cost more $1 billion over their lifetime to qualify for DOE veto.  

Additionally, it also requires that DOE conduct analyses before EPA finalizes covered rules.  If in the analysis DOE determines that the rule will cause “significant adverse effects” on the economy, DOE may block the rule.  The bill provides no deadline by which DOE must complete its analysis and offers no benchmark qualification for “significant”, allowing for a possible indefinite delay of a rule. 

Demonstrating their complete disregard for public health, 219 Republican members voted down an effort by SEEC Co-Chair Gerry Connolly (VA) to ensure the bill would not apply to rules that protect air and water quality.  Similarly, 222 Republican members voted down an amendment from SEEC Member, and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member, Henry Waxman (CA) to prevent the DOE from having the authority to block EPA rulemakings.

In response to its passage, SEEC Members issued the following statement:

“House Republicans once again have chosen to side with polluters at the expense of public health and the environment.  If EPA safeguards are allowed to be permanently delayed, polluters will have nothing to stop them from dumping unlimited amounts of toxins into our air and water.  Protecting the health of every American should never come second to polluter profits.  That is why national defenders of public health and the environment joined SEEC in opposing this bill.  SEEC Members urge Republicans to stop these harmful attacks on public health and instead focus on growing American clean energy jobs.”