3:19 PM EDT
Lois Capps, D-CA 24th

Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer the final amendment to the bill, and I want to be clear--passage of this amendment will not prevent passage of the underlying bill. If it's adopted, my amendment will be incorporated into the bill, and the bill will immediately be voted upon.

As currently written, H.R. 1582 would cripple the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. My amendment simply ensures that the EPA can continue to protect children and seniors from the harmful impacts of pollution. My friends across the aisle claim this bill is about transparency, but let's call it what it is--just another attempt to block the EPA from doing its job.

This bill makes no sense on so many levels. It's redundant and it's unnecessary. It gives the Energy Secretary unprecedented authority to veto EPA rules, and it allows for the indefinite delays of EPA rulemaking. Our top priority should be the health of our children and of our families, not the bottom line of the polluting energy companies.

It's scary to think how many EPA protections that we now take for granted would have been delayed or derailed if this bill were law. Consider the recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Before these rules, there were no Federal standards limiting power plant emissions of toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic. As we know, these toxic pollutants are really poisons. They cause a variety of serious health problems in people of all ages. They affect brain development in children,

and they can cause serious birth defects when pregnant women are exposed. That's why EPA put restrictions on these toxic emissions--restrictions that protect future generations and set them up for success while also reducing preventable health care costs. If H.R. 1582 had been law, these rules could have been delayed indefinitely or could not have happened at all.

Mr. Speaker, my friends across the aisle talk frequently about the financial costs of these and other EPA actions, but what about the health care costs--costs that all of us pay when these preventable ailments occur--and what about the human costs of inaction?

Delaying the air toxics standards for just an additional 1 year would have resulted in more than 11,000 heart attacks, more than 120,000 asthma attacks, more than 12,000 more hospital and emergency room visits, and up to 25,300 lives lost due to smog, due to soot, due to toxic air pollution--and that's just in 1 year. Mr. Speaker, people should be more important than profit.

My amendment speaks to just this. It would simply shield the rules that protect the health of children and of seniors from this dangerous bill. If my colleagues are serious about protecting our children and our seniors, they should have no trouble supporting this amendment.

More than anyone, children and seniors rely on the EPA to do its job of protecting public health and the environment. The Mercury and Air Toxics rule and others like it are helping children and families across the Nation live healthier, longer lives. Perhaps polluters find these rules inconvenient, but the American people certainly don't. They want clean air to breathe. They want clean water to drink, and they want the peace of mind that comes from strong public health standards.

My amendment ensures that protecting the health of our children and seniors never takes a back seat to the financial interests of our polluters. So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and make sure that the health and well-being of our children and seniors always come first.

I yield back the balance of my time.