Hunters and Anglers Urge Congress to Protect Clean Air

Congress should prevent rollbacks of key wildlife and health protections

06-07-2011 // Tony Iallonardo

More than 300 hunter and angler groups from across the U.S. called on Congress today to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to hold polluters accountable and back off House and Senate attacks on the Clean Air Act. Many of the groups held local events to pressure lawmakers in their home states.

Man fly fishing

Citing the law’s bipartisan origins, the signers said that the act “has a long history of success in reducing pollution such as acid rain and smog that threatens fish and wildlife and their habitats.” But today, as the EPA strives to reduce airborne toxins that cause mercury contamination and to limit carbon pollution, the Clean Air Act faces new threats from a number of bills in Congress.

Polls show Congressional attacks on the Clean Air Act fly in the face of overwhelming support for the four decades old law. The airborne toxics that EPA wants to reduce spew out of smokestacks and contaminate our waters and fish. As NWF’s Joe Mendelson points out, most human exposure to mercury comes from eating fish.

“Anglers across the country are getting out on the water this spring, hoping to hook the big one. But this fundamental American pastime is being ruined by pollution that is causing harmful mercury levels in many fish,” said Larry Schweiger, NWF president and CEO. “Our message to Congress is simple. Let EPA do its job and clean up the pollution that fouls our rivers, streams and lakes.”

A Strong Record of Success

Child with clean air activism t-shirt

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to issue air quality standards for pollutants that harm human health and the environment, by limiting pollutants from industrial facilities, power plants and vehicle tailpipes. Recently, several U.S. senators and representative have introduced bills to handcuff, block, or delay EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon, mercury, and toxic air pollution.

“The Clean Air Act has been an incredibly useful tool for protecting trout and salmon habitat across the country," said Steve Moyer, vice president of Trout Unlimited. "The 1990 Clean Air Act amendments cut substantially deposition of acid rain that was destroying brook trout habitat along the length of the Appalachian Mountains, at a fraction of the anticipated costs to Americans. We believe the Clean Air Act can be used in the same fashion to limit greenhouse gas emissions, as well as continue to help on the long standing fight against acid rain.”

A Tool to Battle Climate Change

The letter also outlines the role of climate change in fundamentally altering the environment and putting our outdoor heritage at risk. Curbing EPA’s authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions has been a major focus of some in Congress. Last month the Senate blocked four amendments aimed at disabling EPA’s initiatives to curb climate change. Earlier this year, the NWF issued a “game changers” study, reporting that America’s remarkable storehouse of wildlife is threatened by the “double whammy” of climate change and toxic air pollutants.

Everyone can help play a role in protecting public health and wildlife. Currently EPA is soliciting public comments on its new proposed rules to rein in Mercury and other air toxics. Click here to take action.

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