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Clean Air Act to be reviewed


By Colleen Sikorski




On the 112th Congress’ second day in session, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced a bill that would amend the Clean Air Act in a way that has environmental groups seething.

H.R. 97, the Free Industry Trade Act, amends the Clean Air Act so that nothing in the act regulates global warming or climate change.

H.R. 97 also excludes greenhouse gases from being defined as “air pollutants.”

Indiana Representative Todd Young, R-9th District, has signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 97.

Trevor Foughty, communications director for Young, said Young co-sponsored the bill in order to stop future Congresses from enacting cap-and-trade “schemes.”

“That legislation would have been crippling on the economy, especially in southern Indiana which is heavily reliant on the coal industry for jobs and electricity,” Foughty said in an e-mail.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, cap and trade sets a mandatory limit on emissions and allows sources to buy and sell amounts of pollutants they can emit.

Foughty said there are other technologies that could reduce emissions without hurting the job market, specifically mentioning carbon sequestration clean coal technology.

According to reports by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, carbon sequestration clean coal technology is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere to be released in a reservoir. Carbon is released when coal is burned for fuel.

Two other Indiana congressmen, Dan Burton, R-5th District, and Mike Pence, R-6th District, have also signed on as co-sponsors.

As of Thursday, H.R. 97 had 100 co-sponsors.

Two days after H.R. 97 was introduced, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who is also a co-sponsor, became the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, the Environment and Related Agencies. The subcommittee oversees funding for the EPA.

In a statement, Simpson declared the EPA was “the scariest agency in the federal government” and had “run amok.”

H.R. 97 is currently being reviewed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Sierra Club is one of the environmental groups opposed to H.R. 97. Officials sent out a press release that said “it took Republicans one day ... to declare an all-out war on the Clean Air Act and the EPA.”

One of the Sierra Club’s main concerns is that H.R. 97 would decrease the EPA’s ability to protect the environment and health of Americans, said David Graham-Caso, an associate press secretary for Sierra Club.

“This is a division of our government that is supposed to protect people from pollution,” Graham-Caso said. “Pollution that harms and pollution that kills. Trying to prevent protecting people from pollution is obviously a bad thing for every single American.”

Sierra Club is also concerned about the technological and economic implications of H.R. 97.

“Any legislation that blocks the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 keeps our country reliant on old energy technologies and delays technology investments that can create new jobs,” said Lyndsay Moseley, a federal policy representative for Sierra Club.

IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs professor James Barnes said H.R. 97 would hurt the EPA’s ability to enforce fuel economy standards for automobiles that it developed last year with the Department of Transportation.

“They’re designed as fuel economy standards, but the effect of the fuel economy standard was also to lower the greenhouse gas emissions,” Barnes said. “That move was going to give us more fuel efficient cars and was going to be a help to our automobile industry in terms of developing technologies.”

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