In a new ad campaign, Environment Ohio accuses Republican Congressman Steve Stivers of voting to kill babies. In addition to being over the top, the ad spotlights an increasingly unhinged and politicized environmental movement.
The ad, which shows a baby being spoon-fed dioxin, arsenic and mercury, has a voiceover that asserts that Stivers voted to “gut the Clean Air Act” and to “let polluters release toxins that cause cancer, asthma, heart attacks and even death. Zooming in on the baby, the voiceover says, “And some of these deaths would be very early.”
What Stivers actually voted for is a bill called the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011” (TRAIN Act). The bill passed the House on a bipartisan basis with a vote of 249-168.
The TRAIN Act, if passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, would set up an interagency process for assessing the costs and benefits of certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules aimed at the electric power sector. It also delays two EPA rules — the recently promulgated Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the pending Clean Air Mercury Rule — pending review by the panel.
Contrary to Environment Ohio’s ad, this hardly amounts to a “gutting” of the Clean Air Act. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that it is no longer 1970, when the Clean Air Act was signed into law by President Nixon. Since that time, America’s air has improved dramatically and is, by any objective measure, clean and safe.
Currently, the Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from considering cost when issuing new regulations. Rather than continuing to mindlessly pile costly new regulations upon costly new regulations without weighing their benefits, Stivers and other supporters of the TRAIN Act want to ensure that regulations produce benefits that are commensurate with their costs.
With the unemployment rate above 9 percent, we can’t afford to kill more jobs, especially if there are no significant benefits to be obtained from new rules.
Despite Environment Ohio’s claims, there is no tangible, medical or scientific evidence that today’s ambient air quality is harming anyone, including any babies. And certainly no one is being killed by it.
The EPA has successfully perpetuated the myth that we live in a world of killer air because it holds a monopoly on air quality evaluation and regulation. It hires scientists to “study” air quality and then these same scientists review their own work, which the agency then relies on in setting air standards. So the EPA is, in effect, the police, judge/jury and executioner all rolled into one.
Parties aggrieved by this process have virtually no meaningful opportunity to challenge the EPA in federal court, as the bar for the EPA’s conduct is set low — i.e., as long as the agency offers an explanation for its rules, however lame, a federal court won’t second-guess it.
Congress is finally taking a look at reining in the out-of-control EPA. But the agency and its allies in the environmental activist camp are trying to shut down the effort by hysterically accusing critics of being baby-killers.
If there’s a children’s angle to any of this, it’s that children suffer when their parents are unemployed. Stivers and the other 248 House members who voted for the TRAIN Act ought to be applauded for their efforts to combat this very real and pressing social problem.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).