Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011

Sep 23, 2011 Issues: Environment

Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the TRAIN Act and urge the House to reject it.

The Clean Air Act is one of this nation's most important laws.  Over the last 40 years, it has greatly reduced pollution across the length and breadth of this country, allowing all Americans to live longer, healthier lives.  There is a tendency to take the steady air quality improvements our country has made for granted.  In the course of my trade duties on the Ways and Means Committee, I have visited many countries.  I've been to foreign cities where the air is so thick with smog that some days you can't see buildings that are just a few blocks away.  The air is hard to breathe because it is thick with ozone and particulate pollution.  This is not what we want here in America.

The legislation before the House today has many shortcomings.  I especially object to the provisions of this bill that delay two important Clean Air rules.  The bill would delay the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule as well as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule until at least 2013, and very likely much longer than that since the bill eliminates all statutory and court-ordered deadlines for both rules.

Congress ordered EPA to take action to curb mercury and other air toxics 21 years ago, and more than two decades later we're still waiting for action.  This is particularly a problem in the Great Lakes region.  Mercury is thrown into the air by coal-burning power plants hundreds of miles away and bioaccumulates in Great Lakes fish.  Mercury is especially a health risk for pregnant women and infants because exposure to mercury has been linked to nervous system damage.

The cost of further delay of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule is high.  For each year we delay, there will be up to an additional 17,000 premature deaths; 11,000 non-fatal heart attacks; 120,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits.  The Republican leadership of the House appears to be comfortable with continued inaction on air toxics.  I am not.  We should vote this bill down.