September 26, 2011

A bill just passed by House lawmakers would delay and possibly scale back rules to reduce mercury and other harmful air pollutants. The legislation would force the Environmental Protection Agency to delay pending pollution rules and would also require President Obama to set up a committee to evaluate the impact that new pollution rules would have on jobs, electricity and gasoline prices.

Health and environmental advocates say the stricter air pollution rules would prevent asthma and other lung conditions. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the protections being rolled back under the House bill would prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of childhood asthma attacks. Critics of the EPA regulations say they would hurt the economy by preventing investment and causing plants to close.

The bill would repeal a recent EPA rule governing pollution from power plants that crosses state lines. It would also stop a separate rule that sets stricter standards for toxic pollution from power plants. The legislation now heads to the Senate where Environment and Public Works Committee Chairperson Barbara Boxer vowed to defeat it.