Langevin Calls on EPA to Maintain Clean Air Standards for Power Plants

Jan 16, 2002
(Warwick, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin today announced that he has joined with several House colleagues in requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintain clean air standards for power plants, rather than relaxing those critical standards.  The policy is currently under review by the EPA.

 “We here in Rhode Island take great pride in environmental preservation, most notably through efforts to save and revitalize our greatest natural treasure, Narragansett Bay,” said Congressman Langevin.  “Rather than relax our nation's clean air standards, the EPA should hold steady with current regulations.  Clean air and public health should never be compromised.”

 In a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Langevin and his colleagues stated:
 “The Northeast states have made a commitment to simultaneously improving air quality and securing a reliable energy supply by pursuing a balanced mix of supply and demand options, maintaining high environmental standards and promoting advanced, clean technologies.  Several states in the region have adopted multi-pollutant power plant regulations that have helped shape the national debate, and the region has adopted a mercury action plan that goes beyond federal obligations... We therefore request that you allow the Northeast to meet its energy needs without sacrificing the health of the public or the environment by maintaining - not weakening - rigorous clean air standards for power plants throughout the nation.”

 Pollution from power plants has been linked to a number of respiratory health problems.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year in the United States outdoor air pollutants contribute to an estimated 50,000 to 120,000 premature deaths and $40 to $50 billion in health care costs.  Also, a recent study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care demonstrates that ambient air pollution exposure inhibits children’s lung development as much as if they were active smokers.

 "The Bush Administration needs to listen to our elected officials, Attorneys General, and the American people and not roll back our core clean air protections," stated Kate Strouse Canada, Advocate for Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group (RIPIRG).  "We can not afford, here in Rhode Island, to allow more pollution from old, dirty power plants, which continue to cause asthma attacks and premature deaths here in state.  We applaud Rep. Langevin and the rest of our delegation for continuing to support stronger clean air protections," Strouse Canada continued.

 Last week, the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont voiced their opposition to the relaxing of air quality standards.

 “It is time for the EPA to follow New England's lead and maintain tough standards for those power plants posing a public health risk,” added Langevin.  “Only through strong federal standards can responsible areas such as New England protect citizens from pollution in areas beyond their jurisdiction.”

Langevin is a cosponsor of the Clean Smokestacks Act (H.R. 1256), legislation that requires old power plants to comply with Clean Air Act regulations.  In addition, Langevin submitted testimony to a Boston EPA field hearing on New Source Review, encouraging use of the newest, most environmentally responsible technologies available to provide power to American households.