Inhofe’s Desperate Attack: Senator Stoops to Fighting Dirty Against Clean Air

Common Loons are in jeopardy from toxic mercury pollution that contaminates fish they eat
If it’s so obviously a bad idea to limit mercury pollution under the Clean Air Act, why does Sen. Jim Inhofe have to go so low as to misrepresent National Wildlife Federation testimony to attack it? Is this how desperate politicians trying to block clean air and water standards have become?

Sen. Inhofe is pushing a bill that would revoke the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit mercury pollution under the Clean Air Act. Quite simply, it would be an act of politicians taking wildlife and public health protections out of the hands of EPA scientists. The National Wildlife Federation has been pushing for new mercury standards since the Clinton administration. After 13 years of delay and debate, the EPA’s new rule will prevent 11,000 thousand premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 cases of childhood asthma and 6,300 cases of acute bronchitis. Over 900,000 Americans have spoken out in support of it.

One of them was Brenda Archambo, the National Wildlife Federation’s outreach consultant in Michigan (transcribed section starts around 9:30):


Brenda Archambo: Last year, the sportsmen’s community joined together and about 330 sports organizations across the country representing several hundred thousand members spoke up on behalf of the Clean Air Act and the reduction of mercury for our outdoor heritage and our hunting and fishing heritage, urging our members of Congress to please look seriously at this rule and in defense of the Clean Air Act.

Sen. Barrasso: Ms. Archambo, Sen. Lautenberg just made a comment about enemy of good and the perfect and some of the things I talked about a little earlier. I had mentioned in my opening statement the Senate had an opportunity  to reduce mercury emissions by 70% back in 2005. Would Michigan lakes, sturgeon, sportsmen, familes had been better off had those reductions already gone into effect when they had an opportunity to pass that back  in 2005?

Brenda Archambo: Absolutely, but going forward – I understand history is important, but I’m looking out in front, where we go next.

Sen. Barrasso is referring to the infamous “Clear Skies” initiative, the Orwellian name given to President George W. Bush’s effort to gut Clean Air Act protections. It was written by James Connaughton, who lobbied for big polluters before joining the Bush White House and does so again today. Among the bill’s main sponsors in Congress were two of Big Oil’s All-Stars, Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Joe Barton. The National Wildlife Federation fought hard against the Clear Skies Act and ultimately a bipartisan group of senators joined together to stop it.

Now here’s how Sen. Inhofe’s Environment & Public Works Committee staff misrepresented Brenda’s testimony on their site: “Would Public Health and the Environment Be Better Off Today If President Obama Voted in Favor of Clear Skies? National Wildlife Federation Says: ABSOLUTELY.” How do you get that from what Brenda said? Zero mention of President Obama. Zero endorsement of Clear Skies.

The Senate EPW minority staff is shamefully twisting my words,” Brenda says. “I was for reducing mercury pollution in 2005, and am for reducing mercury pollution today. To imply that I supported gutting the Clean Air Act in the process brazenly misleads the public.”

It’s clear what Sen. Inhofe and his staff are really trying to do here. They’re manipulating Brenda’s testimony in a ham-handed attempt to embarrass the White House.

An odd part of Sen. Inhofe’s attack: He’s essentially saying a 70% reduction in mercury emissions would’ve been just dandy, but the 91% reduction proposed by the EPA would destroy the economy. Is that really such a huge difference? Or is he just playing politics with public health?

Sen. Inhofe’s dirty tactic here is a huge tell that he knows what a lousy hand he’s got. He and a handful of America’s worst industrial polluters are up against nearly a million Americans who’ve said loud & clear they support strong mercury standards.

Take Action

Let your senators know you oppose dirty attacks on clean air standards. Please email your senators right now asking them to stand up for wildlife and public health.