U.S. Senate Supports NAACP Efforts To Empower The Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Senate Supports NAACP Efforts To Empower The Environmental Protection Agency To Reduce Greenhouse Gases


On Wednesday, April 6, 2011, the U.S. Senate voted to reject an amendment which would have prohibited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the authority given to it by the Clean Air Act. This move by the Senate effectively kills efforts to stop the EPA from acting for now. Undeterred, in a purely symbolic move, the U.S. House voted the next day, Thursday, April 7, 2011, to pass an NAACP-opposed bill (H.R. 910) which would have prohibited the EPA from acting. H.R. 910 passed by a margin of 255 yeas to 172 nays.

The Clean Air Act is a comprehensive federal response to air pollution. Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA sets limits on certain air pollutants, including setting limits on how much pollution can be in the air anywhere in the United States. These measures help ensure basic health and environmental protection from air pollutions for all Americans. The Clean Air Act also gives the EPA the authority to limit emissions of air pollutants coming from sources like chemical plants, utilities, and steel mills.

Under the authority granted to the EPA by the Clean Air Act, in the fall of 2009 the EPA announced that as of January, 2011, new or substantially renovated major stationary sources of air pollution – such as power plants or refineries – would be required to use the best technology available to reduce harmful emissions, including “greenhouse gases” which are responsible for climate change. It is estimated that if successful, these reductions will help slow global warming, improve Americans’ health and create new jobs. In fact, according to study released in 2010 by the Small Business Majority, between the years of 2010 and 2015, the capital investments in pollution controls required by the EPA to implement these new rules and new generation will create an estimated 1.46 million jobs, or almost 300,000 year-around jobs per year.

Efforts to slow or stop the effects of global warming are especially important to low-income as well racial and ethnic minority Americans disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. Manifestations of climate change such as severe storms, floods, and climate variability have a disproportionate impact on African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities economically and socially, as well as our health and well-being. Hurricane Katrina, and its aftermath, is but one example of how the results of climate change can have a disparate and often tragic impact on communities of color.

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