Senator Jeanne Shaheen spoke on the Senate floor to voice her opposition to efforts to nullify the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Shaheen said that this resolution would severely undermine the EPA's authority to protect our nation's air from harmful and dangerous pollutants.
Shaheen's remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
Mr. President, I rise today in strong opposition to the efforts by Senator Inhofe to nullify the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). This far-reaching resolution would severely and permanently undermine the EPA’s authority to protect our nation’s air from harmful and dangerous pollutants.
In New Hampshire, we have long enjoyed bipartisan cooperation when it comes to crafting policies that ensure clean air, a strong economy and healthy citizens.
No one appreciates our clean air more than Lia Houk of Henniker, New Hampshire. Lia has lived with cystic fibrosis for the past 40 years. In order to breathe, she must use a nebulizer three times a day and exercise daily to clear her lungs. When pollution poisons the air, she suffers from chest tightness and lung hemorrhaging that can lead to hospitalization. Pollution also worsens the long-term effects of cystic fibrosis, like lung scarring and causes her disease to progress more rapidly.
To protect Lia and millions like her, Congress passed the Clean Air Act and it has long been one of our most successful public health and environmental laws.
Yet, despite the success of the Clean Air Act, we now face efforts to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic air pollutants.
At issue are the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which will require power plants to control the pollution that affects Lia and others who suffer from respiratory problems. For the first time, the standards set federal limits on the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases that power plants can release into our air. These standards will eliminate emissions of these poisonous chemicals from power plants by 90 percent by 2015.
The new nationwide standards are based on widely available pollution control technologies already in place at power plants across the country. They represent a realistic, achievable goal. Yet opponents of MATS argue the environmental regulations will hurt the economy. That's simply not true: these standards will benefit our health, economy and environment.
By removing the largest source of many of these toxins, the new standards will prevent an estimated 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks each year. America's children will be spared 120,000 asthma incidents and 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis.
Far from being job killers, these regulations will mean new work for the innovative American companies that supply the equipment needed for plants to comply with the law. In fact, a study by the Economic Policy Institute found that enactment of these standards would create a net gain of 117,000 jobs.
And of course, clean air is also vital to the tourism and outdoor recreation economy, which supports 53,000 jobs in my state alone.
All the beautiful sights of our state, from the White Mountains to the Great Bay, can only be enjoyed if our air is free of smog and clean to breathe.
So as we consider whether or not to keep the Clean Air Act in place, we do not have to choose between helping people like Lia or helping our economy. We can and we must do both.
I urge my colleagues to reject the resolution by Senator Inhofe and protect the health and welfare of our citizens.
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