Carper: Congress Must Take Lead on Clean Air As Court Rules Against EPA’s Clean Air Rule

Calls Again On Congress to Pass his CAPA Bill to Reduce Toxic Pollution

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Congress must take the lead on clean air issues in light of a federal appeals court ruling today rejecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), designed to reduce air pollution from power plants and help downwind states like Delaware meet federal clean air standards.

As chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, Sen. Carper was closely following today’s ruling of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which determined that the EPA went beyond its legislative authority under the Clean Air Act when it established the Clean Air Interstate Rule.  Sen. Carper, who has authored legislation that would go farther than the EPA’s proposal to reduce smog and soot around the country, said today’s court decision bolsters the need for Congress to weigh in and write a strong clean air standard.   

“Ironically, this court decision comes on a day when Delaware is under a Code Orange air quality warning, which just reminds all of us why we need to see urgent action on the clean air front.  Our air isn’t getting any healthier as we battle new clean air regulations in the courts and Congress continues to stall in passing strong clean air legislation,” said Carper, who first proposed tightening clean air standards six years ago. 

“We need to roll up our sleeves and finally pass legislative updates to the Clean Air Act so that Americans can breathe cleaner air,” Sen. Carper said.

Today’s court ruling effectively struck down CAIR, which relied on a trading scheme to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants in 28 eastern and Midwestern states, as well as the District of Columbia. This EPA regulation was intended to reduce ozone and fine particle pollution from power plants that can be transported across state boundaries and help downwind states, like Delaware, attain EPA air quality standards. The appeals court found that the EPA used a flawed approach in developing elements of the CAIR rule and that key elements of the rule could not be fixed piecemeal, but instead the rule must be entirely withdrawn. 

“Only Congress can take the action needed to begin to help people in states like Delaware who are forced to breathe smog coming from beyond our state borders,” Sen. Carper said. “The 80,000 adults and children in Delaware who suffer from asthma deserve better.”

Nationwide, two out of five people live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particulate matter – both serious health hazards for people who suffer from asthma and other lung diseases.  From sulfur dioxide emissions alone, 24,000 Americans die each year.

Sen. Carper stressed that today’s court ruling further justifies the need for congressional passage of his Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA), which he reintroduced last year. CAPA improves air quality by reducing power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide by 68 percent, sulfur dioxide by 82 percent and mercury by 90 percent by 2015.

CAPA has 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), John Sununu (R-N.H.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.).