Beyer, Kaptur lead 70+ Dems calling on Pruitt to halt assault on clean air

Don BeyerReps. Don Beyer (VA-08) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) today led 71 Democrats in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt expressing grave concerns over his May 9th memorandum regarding future National Ambient Air Quality Standards reviews and standard setting.

The memo asks the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to consider “adverse social, economic, or energy effects related to NAAQS” during the standard-setting process. This would result in insufficient standards that would cause undue harm to the health of millions of Americans, and would also set a dangerous precedent for setting future EPA standards.

The Members wrote:

“We are deeply concerned with your May 9th memorandum regarding future National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) reviews and standard setting.

“Your memo specifically asks the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to consider ‘adverse social, economic, or energy effects related to NAAQS’ during the standard-setting process. Currently, cost considerations inform implementation of the health standards, but not their establishment.  The Supreme Court unanimously confirmed this point in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, 531 U.S. 457 (2001), ruling that EPA may not consider implementation costs in setting NAAQS.

“Allowing the consideration of factors other than health in setting future NAAQS would not only result in inadequate standards that would cause undue harm to the health of millions of Americans, it would also set a dangerous precedent for setting EPA standards. Your memo calls for the expedited review of two pollutants, particulate matter and ozone, which have the potential to aggravate asthma, increase the severity of chronic lung diseases, damage the lungs, cause cardiovascular harm, and even cause death.

“Using the CASAC as the vehicle to make this change is also very concerning given your decision to bar scientists that receive agency funding from acting on advisory boards. This action diminishes the input from the world’s best scientists and we fear it will advantage the economic arguments of industry to the detriment of public health.

“Your memo’s stratagem—formally directing CASAC to consider non-health factors during the standard-setting process, before final standards are adopted—is highly objectionable. We, therefore, urge you to withdraw the improper charge to CASAC at once, and to make clear that CASAC—and EPA—will remain focused exclusively on the adverse public health effects that the Clean Air Act and a unanimous Supreme Court confirm are the only relevant statutory considerations during the health standard-setting processes.

“The Clean Air Act has been an overwhelming success for the health of Americans.  We urge you not to backslide on that legacy.”

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