January 19, 2012

 TO:                  Members of the U.S. Senate

 FROM:             Elisabeth MacNamara, President

 RE:                  Oppose Overturning Administration Environmental Initiatives


The League of Women Voters urges you to oppose efforts in the Senate to overturn Administration initiatives that protect public health and the environment such the new mercury and air toxics rule and the recent decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline.

 In December, the Administration promulgated the first ever rules under the Clean Air Act to cut power plant emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxics.  Even in small amounts these pollutants are linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death.  Delayed for decades, these rules are about protecting people’s lives.

 We understand that there are efforts in the Senate to use the authority provided by the Congressional Review Act to void the mercury and air toxics rule.  This would be a public health disaster.  Each year, the new regulations could prevent 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks among children – and save 11,000 lives.  Mercury particularly harms children, including effects on IQ, learning, and memory.

 In addition to protecting kids and saving lives, updating older power plants with new air pollution control technology will support 46,000 new short-term construction jobs and 8,000 new long-term jobs at power plants.

The Administration also recently rejected the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada across the U.S. The League of Women Voters opposes the pipeline since it is a threat to the drinking water of millions of Americans.   Putting the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides agricultural and drinking water to so many in the Plains states, is too big a risk.  Moreover, the majority of any jobs created would be short term and short lived. The damage to such an important water supply would last for centuries. 

The League is also concerned that the life-cycle greenhouse gas pollution from Canadian tar sands is much greater than from conventional sources.  Approval of this pipeline would be inconsistent with meaningful action on climate change.  

The League of Women Voters is pleased that the Obama Administration has chosen the health of children and families instead of giving in to the lobbying of big polluters, the oil industry, coal companies and power plants.  We urge you to do the same.