Lawmakers demand answers from EPA on Administration’s efforts to roll back air-quality standards
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), chair of the House oversight panel that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency, sent a letter today to the head of the EPA demanding detailed information about the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back several key environmental and public health protections.
The letter comes as the EPA seeks to roll back mercury and air-toxicity standards across the nation – a move designed to save companies billions of dollars a year, while also increasing the risk of illness and even premature death for thousands of Americans.
In addition to expressing concern about the increased health risks associated with the rollbacks, especially for Americans living in low-income and minority communities, the lawmakers demanded that the agency provide the committee detailed answers to several written questions about the administration’s efforts to weaken the nation’s air-quality standards and discredit the role of science in the agency’s proceedings.
“These actions are particularly alarming in light of the recent warnings underscoring the impacts of climate change on air quality and the health of the American people,” the lawmakers wrote to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Congress and the public require a more detailed explanation of EPA’s actions to assess the consequences of these policy changes. We request information to enable the Committee to evaluate the potential effects of these actions on public health and the environment.”
The letter – which was signed by DeGette, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, as well as the chairman of the full committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the chairman of the committee’s Environment and Climate Change panel, Paul Tonko (D-NY) – comes on the heels of a recently released Fourth National Climate Assessment that found more than 100 million people in the United States live in communities where air pollution exceeds acceptable air quality standards.
The report also found that, unless stronger air-quality standards are implemented, climate change will cause the nation’s air-pollution levels to worsen, resulting in increased adverse health effects and premature death for many Americans, particularly among children, older adults and pregnant women.
A similar study by Harvard University found that 80,000 more Americans will die per decade if the Administration completes its planned rollbacks of clean air and water protections.
A copy of the lawmakers’ letter is available here.