The American Lung Association in Maine deeply appreciates Sen. Susan Collins’ long‐standing record of support for protecting public health. We thank her for her work to protect the nation’s clean air safeguards and champion legislation to regulate tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration in order to protect children and adults. Both of these issues are of particular importance for lung health.
In light of her firm commitment to protecting health, especially her work this spring to stand up to special interests and stick up for Maine’s kids, we are most disappointed in her recent sponsorship of legislation that would delay and block the implementation of science‐based safeguards that protect every family and business in Maine.
We have asked her to reconsider her support for three bills that undermine public health: S. 1392, EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011; S. 1538, Regulatory Time‐Out Act of 2011; and S. 1606, Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011. Each of these bills creates delays and additional barriers to the implementation of lifesaving safeguards and health protections.
By delaying regulations and changing the process by which major regulations are promulgated, the legislation Sen. Collins is backing creates greater uncertainty, especially for businesses that must plan and comply with any changes. It also creates uncertainty for states that must plan on how best to protect their citizens from air pollution and for families that need protections now from air pollution or need help protecting their children from the predatory practices of the tobacco industry.
Current law provides a fair approach that permits all stakeholders to participate in the rule making process. In the case of toxic air pollution from industrial boilers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is already undertaking a reconsideration of that rule in an effort get the rule right. This legislation further delays this overdue toxic cleanup to 2018 — three years beyond EPA’s revised timeline and 15 years after the first rules were adopted on these sources.
This bill’s delay will result in more than 100,000 tons of additional toxic air pollution, including mercury, toxic metals, dioxin and acid gases; as many as 22,000 premature deaths and 143,000 asthma attacks; and over 1 million missed school and work days.
We are also concerned about provisions in the bill that could result in the burning of tire‐derived fuel, used oil and other waste products that for the purposes of the bill would not be considered solid waste. All would lead to increased toxic emissions.
The public needs and expects strong oversight and robust health protections, particularly the 25,000 children and 112,000 adults with asthma in Maine. They cannot afford further delays — each breath is far too important. We are asking Sen. Collins to put the health of Maine people and all Americans first and withdraw her support for these bills.
Jeffrey Seyler is the CEO of the American Lung Association of New England.