Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Chairman, title II of this bill blocks the EPA from finalizing several important air quality rules until after a new government bureaucracy produces a new analysis of these and other EPA actions. But it's a fool's errand because a new government bureaucracy is required to conduct an impossible analysis of rules that haven't even been proposed using data that doesn't exist.
The bill would block the EPA from issuing new tier 3 standards for motor vehicles and fuels to reduce harmful tailpipe emissions that cause smog and deadly particle pollution. Smog and soot pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even premature death.
The bill would block the EPA from issuing long overdue rules to require refineries to use modern technology to reduce their emissions of toxic air pollutants. The pollutants cause cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and other serious health problems.
The bill would also block the EPA from issuing rules necessary for States and localities to implement the 2008 ozone standard. This would leave the outdated 1997 ozone standard in place. Even the Bush administration thought this standard was too weak. In addition, the bill would block the EPA from updating the ozone standard to reflect the best available science on the health effects of breathing dirty air.
During the legislative hearing on this bill, Chairman Whitfield stated, ``It is not the intent of this legislation to roll back any existing health protections.'' That claim is laughable for a bill that radically changes the Clean Air Act by barring the EPA from setting [Page: H3900] air quality goals based on what the science tells us is safe to breathe. But if Republicans want to claim that this bill is not an attack on the Clean Air Act and public health, there should be no objection to my amendment.
My amendment simply states that, notwithstanding the bill's provisions and notwithstanding all that's in this bill, the EPA administrator cannot delay implementing any of the rules targeted by the bill if the air pollution that would be controlled by those rules causes serious harm to human health, including asthma attacks and other respiratory disease, heart attacks, cancer, birth defects, brain damage, or premature death.
This is a simple choice between oil industry profits and Americans' health. The top five oil companies earned $137 billion in profits last year. They can afford to clean up their pollution.
Instead, this bill would make Americans pick up the tab for the oil companies, and it would make Americans pay that tab with their health and even their lives. The air quality protections blocked by this bill are especially important for the most vulnerable among us--our babies, kids, old people.
Oil refineries are among the largest emitters of toxic air pollution, and they are often located near where people live, but this bill would indefinitely delay the EPA's ability to require oil refineries to clean up pollution such as benzene, which causes cancer and contributes to birth defects and developmental harm in babies.
Republicans argue these rules would only be delayed for a while, but many of these rules have already been delayed for far too long. The Republicans' claim assumes that the interagency committee can actually complete the impossible study required by this bill. Even if that were possible, there would still be no deadlines for these new rules as the bill eliminates existing deadlines and sets no new ones.
Americans rely on the Environmental Protection Agency to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up their pollution. It's just common sense. If you stop the EPA from doing its job, public health will suffer.
So it's time to come clean. If you want to pass a bill to stop the EPA from doing its job and allow polluters to pollute with impunity, be honest with the American people. Tell them you think that we have done enough to reduce air pollution and that you want to stop any further efforts to clean up air pollution, but don't pretend that this get-out-of-jail-free card for oil industry polluters won't hurt the health of Americans, especially our children and the elderly.
If, on the other hand, you don't want to block efforts to clean up air pollution that is contributing to asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung disease, cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and premature death, then support my amendment. My amendment will make it perfectly clear that the EPA can continue to clean up air pollution that causes serious health effects.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.