Russell Train Tells Congress Not To Gut the Clean Air Act
Russell Train, the second administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who served from 1973-1977, and later became president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is now 90 years old. Still the ardent environmentalist, Train sent a letter on May 24 to the Senate urging it to reject Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (AK-R) Resolution of Disapproval which would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Train writes that Murkowski’s Resolution would “fundamentally undermine the Clean Air Act, overturning science in favor of political considerations.” He debunks the supports of the Resolution who say that Congress did not mean to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act. “This argument is inconsistent with the history of the law as it has been applied for the past 40 years and misconstrues the original intentions of Congress. Precisely because existing knowledge was so limited at the time, Congress broadly defined the term ‘air pollutant’ and relied on the experts at EPA to evaluate individual pollutants.”
Train cites his experience reducing lead pollution while he was the EPA Administrator. He points out that lead pollution is not mentioned in the Clean Air Act. “However, the scientific evidence strongly suggested that it was resulting in severe health effects, particularly in children. Under the law, the EPA was compelled to issue an “endangerment finding”, which established a risk to human health or welfare and obligated the agency to begin regulating lead in automobiles.”
“The country would be better served if, rather than attempting to fix what is not broken, the Senate instead focused its energies on finalizing legislation to limit greenhouse gas pollutants and move the United States towards cleaner energy sources,” Train writes at the end of the letter. “As part of these efforts, the Senate should retain the essential tools provided by the Clean Air Act.”