The Clean Air Senate Showdown

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wants to protect coal companies from greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act.©

In a response to attempts by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and other coal state senators to protect their states from further greenhouse gas regulation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson sent a letter to Sen. Rockefeller on Feb. 22 that outlines the EPA’s plan for implementing new regulations for carbon polluters under the Clear Air Act and responds to several other concerns raised by senators.

The plan includes a manageable timeline for new regulations for major carbon polluters while addressing global warming pollution in a way that will benefit the economy and environment. EPA states that undermining the Clean Air Act would risk vital new rules that could be used to raise fuel economy standards and reduce emissions from vehicles. This proposal will save consumers $50 a month and cut oil use by 1.8 billion barrels. The EPA stated that "It’s time for Senators to dispense with these [monetary] distractions and instead move forward with comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will cut pollution, fix our economy, and make America energy independent."

Instead, on March 4, Rockefeller unveiled legislation that would put a two-year freeze on using the Clean Air Act to set standards for coal companies and other big emitters. Responded the nonprofit EarthJustice: "Senator Rockefeller’s legislation is an attack on the Clean Air Act…[and] a favor to the coal industry, which is responsible for more than a third of U.S. carbon emissions."

SOURCE: EarthJustice; EPA Letter.