Sen. Carper Responds to Proposed Funding Cuts to Clean Air Protections

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on clean air, objected to House Republicans’ proposals to cut funding to life-saving clean air protections and defunding clean air programs run by cash-strapped states. The House funding bill also cuts important funding for states to help implement new air permitting rules– which could prevent or delay much needed economic development in this country.

Among the proposed cuts, the House prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enforcing clean air protections that would reduce mercury emissions from cement kilns – some of the country’s largest mercury emitters. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is especially harmful to the brain development of unborn children. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that annually there are over 600,000 pregnant women with elevated levels of mercury in their bodies, causing them to give birth to babies who are at risk of neurological damage because of mercury.

“As our nation faces a mushrooming deficit and budget crisis, my colleagues and I agree that some cuts to federal spending are needed to bring our nation’s fiscal house in order,” said Sen. Carper. “However, Congress cannot be pennywise and pound foolish as we look for ways to reduce federal spending. Unfortunately many of the cuts approved today by House Republicans as part of their funding bill jeopardize the health of Delawareans and Americans across the country.

“The cost of future health problems and lives lost will undoubtedly surpass any short-term savings,” continued Sen. Carper. “The EPA’s clean air programs have repeatedly shown huge returns for the initial investment, easing the costs of pollution damage and the long-term harmful toll on health caused by that pollution. Clean air and water give all of us a chance to have a healthier life and future. These EPA regulations protect us from air pollution that not only costs this country billions in lost revenues and health care expenses, but kills thousands every year. Efforts to clean our air are also good for our economy, creating much needed jobs in manufacturing, installing, and operating modern pollution control technology and producing clean energy.

“Over the years we’ve made great strides in reducing our nation’s air pollution and saving lives, but more can be done. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in the House and the Senate want to make drastic cuts, putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk every day. These proposed cuts are short-sighted and politically driven, and neglect the health and well-being of Delawareans and Americans.”