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For Immediate Release, April 6, 2011

Contact: Bill Snape,, (202) 536-9351

Senate Rejects Back-door Moves to Roll Back America's Most Important Air Pollution Law

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate today rejected moves to repeal portions of the Clean Air Act, our nation’s most important air pollution law. The efforts were some of the latest attempts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking much-needed steps to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

“The Senate today rightly chose to protect our health and environment rather than to give in to polluters’ demands for a free pass when it comes to greenhouse gas pollution,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The climate crisis can be solved, but it requires real leadership — not politicians beholden to Big Coal, Oil and Gas.”

Today’s votes were on four separate amendments to a small-business bill (S.493) not directly related to the issue of climate change. By a vote of 93 to 7, the Senate overwhelmingly turned back an amendment by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that would have limited Clean Air Act authority, including exempting large sources of carbon pollution from having to seek permits for emitting greenhouse gas pollution unless they were already required to seek permits for other pollutants.

By the same vote of 93 to 7, the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) that would have delayed EPA action under the Clean Air Act for at least two years. It would also have stopped EPA from implementing carbon pollution performance standards for power plants and oil refineries.

The Senate also rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), 88 to 12, that would have halted ongoing progress to update Clean Air Act standards by the EPA for at least another two years.

Finally, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment, which required 60 votes to pass, also went down to defeat with just 50 votes.  McConnell’s amendment would have stopped the EPA from implementing a U.S. Supreme Court order and curbing carbon dioxide and other dangerous greenhouse gas pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is expected to vote later today on legislation to stop the EPA from implementing a U.S. Supreme Court order and curbing CO2 and other dangerous greenhouse gas pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The vote flies in the face of strong public support for the EPA, the Clean Air Act and tougher standards for greenhouse pollutants contributing to global warming and climate disruptions around the world. 

A recently released survey conducted for the American Lung Association found that three out of four voters support the EPA setting tougher standards on air pollutants including mercury, smog and carbon dioxide, and 64 percent oppose congressional action, such as the amendments rejected in the Senate today, to stop the EPA from setting updated limits on CO2 pollution. Also, 69 percent said that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards. 

A recent EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone. For every dollar spent, Americans have received $30 in economic benefits in return. The Clean Air Act has also helped create jobs, with more than 1.7 million Americans employed in the environmental technology industry, helping to keep our air clean.

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