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Budget negotiations on EPA's fate are neither clean nor clear

"Tyson Slocum" "Public Citizen" "Energy Director"As if it wasn’t enough that President Barack Obama touted the need for nuclear power and deceptively named “clean coal” during his speech Wednesday on energy security, it is being reported that the Obama administration is insisting that Democrats in Congress agree, as part of budget negotiations, to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to enforce clean air standards.

The very idea is offensive. The White House has denied this report; we hope this is correct and call on the president to pledge to veto any budget that includes such restrictions.

The Obama administration wants to avoid a government shutdown, but it would be foolish for it to think the only way to do that is to agree to GOP demands. Corporate polluters and their congressional allies are demanding that the spending bill include provisions that strip the EPA of its authority to limit carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Enough is enough. Obama and lawmakers should not give in to arm-twisting.

Climate change poses a significant threat to all of us, and the Clean Air Act represents a critical tool to limit harmful pollutants. Powerful polluters should not be allowed to hamstring the agency that protects our public health. Compromising the EPA’s ability to protect public health under the Clean Air Act is not an option.