SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

September 29, 2011

Congressional roll call for weeks of Sept. 19 and 26, 2011

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON - Here’s how members of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress voted on major issues the weeks of Sept. 19 and 26:

HOUSE

CLEAN-AIR RULES DELAY: Voting 249 for and 169 against, the House on Sept. 23 sent the Senate a bill (HR 2401) to delay until February 2013 or later the effective dates of two clean-air regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to begin phasing in next year.

One is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would limit power-plant emissions in 28 eastern, southern and central states that contribute to ground-level ozone (smog) and fine-particle (soot) pollution in other states. The other is the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule, which would limit coal-and oil-fired power plants in their discharges of acid gases and toxic elements such as mercury and arsenic. The plants would have to install equipment such as scrubbers and particulate controls to meet the EPA standards. Additionally, the bill would reduce EPA funding to enforce curbs on diesel emissions.

Critics said the regulations would worsen the recession by placing costly burdens on the private sector and raising electricity bills. The EPA said its cross-state rule would avert 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths each year in thousands of U.S. counties while generating billions of dollars in annual benefits to the U.S. economy.

Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said the bill is needed because “over the past 30 months under the Obama Administration, the EPA has issued a wide array of large, expensive regulations that affect virtually every facet of the U.S. economy, from homeowners, hospitals, and farmers to small businesses and manufacturers,” costing employers $17.8 billion annually.

Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said: “Since 1970, the Clean Air Act has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and decreased air pollution by 60 percent. Implementing clean-air standards will mean fewer kids and parents will struggle with life-long costs of dirty air (and) reducing the amount of mercury and toxins in the air and water.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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