U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Rollbacks to Clean Air Act Threaten the Health of Tennesseans

Opposition has Bipartisan Support

TPHA Executive Director Kim Harrell recently met with Congressman Jim Cooper and (pictured with him, R-L) Christine Hart, Manager of the Healthy Air Campaign for the American Lung Association in Tennessee, Amrita Banerjee, Vanderbilt University,  Kathleen Murphy, Tennessee Nurses Association, and Kimberly Jackson, Health Impacts of Degraded Environments (HIDE), to discuss the threats to the Clean Air Act at the federal level.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a number of rollbacks to standards including the Cleaner Car Standards, Clean Power Plan, Methane Rules, Carbon Rules, and, most recently, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Each has significant health consequences. For instance, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are estimated to prevent 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, and 5,700 hospital visits according to the American Lung Association.

Opposition to the rollbacks has broad bipartisan support in Congress including support from two of Tennessee’s distinguished statesmen.  Congressman Cooper, whose voting record is consistently in favor of environmental protections, is against the rollbacks.  Senator Lamar Alexander has submitted many letters to the EPA asking them to reconsider, most recently on March 18 when he and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del) were lead authors on a bipartisan letter to the Trump Administration urging them to keep the Mercury Rule untouched.  TPHA was cited as a supporting organization in their letter. Full text of the letter is available here 

Outdoor air pollution impacts our health. It is connected to asthma, COPD, cardiovascular disease, developmental harm, premature death and other debilitating and costly health issues.   It also impacts the health of our environment – our farmland, forests, wildlife and waterways.  Tennessee has made significant investment over the past two decades that has shown real progress toward improving our air quality.  Rollbacks to current standards will negate those efforts and make it even harder for all of us in public health to do our jobs.   Congressman Cooper and Senator Alexander are doing their part.  They need us to help by sharing our knowledge and expertise in public health with policy makers and citizens alike so they can better understand the far-reaching consequences to these rollbacks, the resultant strain on limited resources and state budgets, and the eventual threat to our enviable way of life here in the great state of Tennessee.

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For recent legislative action in Tennessee’s 111th General Assembly, click here.