Pallone Floor Remarks in Opposition to Republicans' Bill Repealing EPA's Heavy-Duty NOx Rule
Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.'s (D-NJ) remarks on the House floor today, as prepared for delivery, in opposition to S.J. Res. 11 – a joint resolution invoking the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Heavy-Duty Vehicle Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Rule:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this Republican joint resolution of disapproval to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Heavy-Duty Vehicle Nitrogen Oxide Rule. This resolution is yet another extremist, Republican attack on commonsense steps EPA is taking to protect Americans’ health and the environment.
Last December, EPA finalized a rule that sets new standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles to reduce dangerous nitrogen oxide emissions, also known as NOx. Before the EPA’s action, it had been more than 20 years since the agency had last updated heavy-duty emission standards for NOx pollution. These new standards are needed now because the science is clear – this pollution poses serious threats to public health. The tragic outcomes include premature death, respiratory illnesses like childhood asthma, cardiovascular problems, and other detrimental health impacts.
The trucking industry is a leading source of this dangerous air pollution. And it is especially dangerous for the 72 million Americans who live near truck freight routes across the United States.
The EPA rule will cut NOx pollution from these vehicles by nearly half in 2045. That is going to make a huge difference because one in three Americans lives in counties with unhealthy air and 100,000 Americans die every year from premature deaths associated with air pollution.
This harmful air pollution has negative repercussions for all Americans but is especially dangerous for our most vulnerable communities: children, the elderly, low-income communities, and communities of color.
The EPA rule is a critical tool to protect these Americans, improve public health outcomes, and secure the right to clean air for everyone. This rule is expected to prevent up to 2,900 premature deaths, 6,700 hospital admissions and ER visits, 18,000 cases of childhood asthma, and 1.1 million lost school days for children. EPA also estimates that it will result in $200 billion in health-related benefits.
The Republican CRA that we are debating this afternoon would abandon all of the public health, economic, and environmental justice benefits that come with the EPA rule.
It’s also worth noting that during the rulemaking process, EPA engaged extensively with communities, and Tribal, state, and local governments. It also engaged with industry, environmental organizations, and labor groups to promulgate a final rule that is technologically feasible and realistically achievable.
Let me say that again: this rule is completely achievable. That’s why industry is generally supportive. In fact, the period for judicial review closed in March, and there were no lawsuits filed against it.
But Republicans are moving ahead with this last-ditch attempt to prevent the EPA from protecting Americans’ health so they can once again prop up their polluter friends. They’ve been putting polluters over people since the beginning of this Congress and this is just another unfortunate example.
This Republican bill would have dire consequences for EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission to protect public health and welfare from dangerous pollution. If enacted, this resolution would repeal the rule and prevent any substantially similar future action by EPA. That outcome is simply not acceptable. Thankfully, President Biden has already vowed to veto this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, EPA’s rule is commonsense, achievable, and long overdue. S.J. Res. 11 is a baseless attack on EPA’s Clean Air Act authority and obligation to protect Americans and the environment from dangerous air pollution. This Republican bill would set us back years on addressing dangerous air pollution, protecting communities, and modernizing our heavy-duty transportation sector.
I strongly urge all my colleagues to join me in opposing this joint resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.