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The White House is threatening to veto two House bills that would delay key Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution regulations. The bills would weaken EPA's ability to ensure that its standards protect American families from a range of harmful pollutants including mercury and other toxic metals, as well as smog and soot. The White House said any delay of the rules would have a major impact on public health.

The bills – H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681 – are expected to come up for a floor vote this week.

Here’s the full statement:
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681, which would undermine public health protections under the Clean Air Act (CAA). These bills would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from moving ahead with long-overdue requirements to reduce air pollution from industrial boilers, solid waste incinerators, and cement plants. The bills also would weaken EPA's ability to ensure that its standards protect American families from a range of harmful pollutants including mercury and other toxic metals, as well as smog and soot.

Since it was enacted in 1970 and amended in 1977 and 1990, each time with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation's air quality and protected public health. Over that same period of time, the economy has grown over 200 percent while emissions of key pollutants have decreased more than 70 percent. Supporters of H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681 claim that jobs are at stake. In fact, 40 years of clean air regulation has shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand. If the Congress is serious about creating jobs, it should pass the American Jobs Act, which will fund the infrastructure projects that will help get our economy moving again and create jobs throughout the economy, including in the cement sector.

H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681 would delay until at least 2018, and perhaps later, the implementation of important air pollution standards that are required by the 1990 CAA Amendments and are already more than a decade overdue. The delay due to those bills would result in significant public health impacts that the rules would otherwise prevent, including tens of thousands of premature deaths; tens of thousands of cases of respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and acute bronchitis; and over a hundred thousand asthma attacks. Delaying implementation also would increase exposure to mercury, which can impair children’s ability to think and learn. As a result, even the minimum delay due to these bills could mean foregoing over a hundred billion dollars in health benefits. Each additional year of delay would mean foregoing tens of billions of dollars more in net benefits.

If the President is presented with H.R. 2250 or H.R. 2681, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
(The Hill, 10/3/2011)