Congresswoman Adams Fights to Protect Clean Air & Water Against GOP Attacks
Congresswoman Adams: “It took a disastrous spill of coal ash into the Dan River to make it clear that we were not doing a good enough job to protect our communities and waterways. Look at the children and families in Flint who will never be same because we failed to protect their basic human right of access to clean water.”
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the House considered H.R. 3797, the “Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act” or “SENSE Act.” This Republican legislation would undermine the Clean Air Act and give breaks to waste coal plants, eliminate the financial incentive to reduce emissions and cut back on state’s rights. Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12) presented the Democratic Motion to Recommit which would ensure the legislation would not take effect if it harms Americans’ health.
Congresswoman Adams’ motion to recommit would have stopped H.R. 3797 from going into effect if it was found to allow dangerous emissions into the air that harm brain development or cause learning disabilities in children; and allow increased mercury to enter lakes, rivers, streams, and public drinking water sources. The Republican dominated House did not pass Congresswoman Adams’ motion to recommit, or any democratic amendments to the bill. The House passed H.R. 3797 on a party line vote. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, should it make it to his desk.
Congresswoman Adams has been a fierce advocate for low-income and minority communities who are disproportionally located near toxic waste sites. Congresswoman Adams recently received a rating of 97 percent on The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) 2015 National Environmental Scorecard and remains an active member of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus.
Congresswoman Adams spoke on the House floor against the H.R. 3797 and presented the amendment in an effort to protect Americans from increased air and water pollution. Below are Congresswoman Adams’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, my amendment is a critical improvement that would protect American children and our most vulnerable communities. This unnecessary bill would weaken both the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by allowing waste coal plants to emit more sulfur dioxide.
“Health risks from exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause breathing problems, reduced lung function, and asthma exacerbations. I think about the children in Mecklenburg County who are already suffering from high asthma rates. And this bill would further put their health at risk as well as the communities both near waste coal plants and downwind.
“Communities with limited resources and political clout are often low-income communities and communities of color. We must ensure together that these communities and their unique needs have a voice when it comes to environmental health policy so that we can bolster their resilience and reduce the impacts of future disasters.
“As Representatives of the people, only negligence and apathy could lead us to ignore the risks that this bill poses to human health and the environment. If my amendment passes it would make sure that an increase in emissions will not harm brain development or cause learning disabilities in infants or children and will protect our nation’s sources of public drinking water from mercury pollution.
“Research shows that babies and children who are exposed to mercury may suffer damage to their developing nervous systems, hurting their ability to think, learn, and speak. Have we not been paying attention? Just look at North Carolina.
“It took a disastrous spill of coal ash into the Dan River to make it clear that we were not doing a good enough job to protect our communities and waterways. Look at the children and families in Flint who will never be same because we failed to protect their basic human right of access to clean water.
“How could this be a 21st Century issue in America? And what has this body done to help? – NOT MUCH! When will it stop?
“Republicans and Democrats alike voted in 1990 to strengthen the Clean Air Act to require dozens of industry sectors to install modern pollution controls on their facilities. And since then, EPA has set emissions standards that simply require facilities to use pollution controls that others in their industry are already using. But a few major industrial sources so far have escaped regulation. And the Republicans appear to be on a mission to help them continue to evade emissions limits on toxic air pollution.
“This bill is just another Republican handout—weakening the rule and allowing more toxic air pollution and more of these types of health hazards. It favors polluting industries at the expense of Americans and air quality.
“Moreover, the bill sets a very dangerous precedent that could open the floodgates to other special treatment bills, creating loopholes and lax treatment that may cause additional health hazards that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards now prevents. This bill is toxic and will be the knife in our children’s backs.
“My amendment will improve the bill by putting the health and safety of our nation’s children first instead of allowing Republicans to continue their assault on the health of our nation. I urge my colleagues to support it.”