TRAIN Act Continues Misguided Attacks on Public Health and Environmental Protections

EPA Rules Have Valuable Benefits, Don’t Hinder Economy

Sept. 19, 2011

Contact: Rich Robinson, Public Citizen, (202) 588-7773 or rrobinson@citizen.org
Brian Gumm, OMB Watch, (202) 683-4812 or bgumm@ombwatch.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the latest in a series of attacks against crucial public health and environmental protections. The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2401), which focuses on a set of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality rules, requires layers of unnecessary analysis and would distract the agency from its mission under the Clean Air Act: safeguarding the public health of all Americans.

Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “This bill would create a costly interagency panel that would second-guess the work of EPA scientists and other professionals, wasting time, taxpayer dollars and limited agency resources.” Slesinger noted that language that was added in committee could permanently sideline the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants “because it removes any legal deadline for action to protect our citizens from this unnecessary insult to our environment.”

The delay in setting standards would be costly, potentially leading to thousands of preventable deaths, asthma attacks and non-fatal heart and lung problems each year and causing needless tragedies and financial hardships for large numbers of American families across the country.

Katherine McFate, president and CEO of OMB Watch, said, “Despite having the word ‘transparency’ in its name, this bill represents a train wreck for citizen participation as well as public health protections.” Though the bill mandates 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 today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) demonstrates 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 outweigh the costs of implementing improved air quality standards.

“We need to get this train off the tracks,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.  “Instead of continuing to pull these political stunts, our elected officials need to get serious about their responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the American people.”

Additional resources: The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules

# # #

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For a list of member organizations and other information about the coalition, go to www.sensiblesafeguards.org.