Big Business boosters looking to catch a TRAIN to nowhere

This week, maybe even as early as tomorrow, we will see action on H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act. It’s a terrible bill that takes aim at two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguards: the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants. It would require layers of unnecessary analysis and would distract the agency from its mission under the Clean Air Act: safeguarding the public health of all Americans.

Photo by Leo Reynolds via flickr

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards sent out a press release yesterday which very straightforwardly stated, we can have clean air and jobs.

It cited the Clean Energy Group, a group of energy utilities and power companies, which wrote that the rules are “reasonable and consistent,” “that the electric sector is well-positioned to comply” with the new standards, and encouraged EPA to complete the rule as scheduled. Exelon Corporation commented that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards proposed rule “will provide the certainty that industry desperately needs to modernize and improve” and will encourage “investment in a clean, modern, efficient generation fleet, thus promoting long-term economic health for both the electric industry and the nation as a whole.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports the TRAIN Act would block the power plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule indefinitely. Blocking these standards for just one additional year would result in up to 25,300 lives lost due to smog, soot, and toxic air pollution; more than 11,000 heart attacks; more than 120,000 asthma attacks; over 12,200 more hospital and emergency room visits; and many hundreds of thousands more days of missed work or school.

These figures are drawn from EPA’s projected health benefits for these two standards, found here [pdf] and here [pdf].

Derailing these essential public health safeguards would stop the clean-up of pollution like mercury, a known brain poison that particularly affects children and the unborn. It would also create a costly inter-agency panel that would second-guess the work of EPA scientists and other professionals, wasting time, taxpayer dollars and limited agency resources.

Interestingly, even though the word “transparency” is right there in the name of the bill, there would be little of it if it actually became law. Though the bill would mandate a public comment period on the panel’s preliminary report to Congress, the legislation does not require the panel to hold public meetings, take public testimony or otherwise seek public input while conducting its analyses.

A paper released yesterday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) exposes the false assumptions promoted by the TRAIN Act. In “The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules,” EPI finds that the estimated economic benefits of Obama-era EPA rules in terms of lives saved, illnesses prevented and medical costs deferred far outweighed the costs of implementing improved air quality standards.

It was good to read today that President Barack Obama is threatening a veto if it lands on his desk. It’s obvious to everybody (except to the corporate fat cats and their Big Business cheerleaders) that this TRAIN needs to be derailed, and quickly.