Dems: Heart attacks, asthma, deformed babies if EPA reined in

House Democrats on Thursday evening warned that Republican attempts to rein in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations would lead directly to adverse health effects across America.

Members were debating H.R. 2401, which would create a commission to weight the impact of recent EPA rules and delay pending rules on mercury and air pollution. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said delaying these two pending rules in particular would lead to immediate adverse health consequences.

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"Each year these rules will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths, tens of thousands of heart attacks, and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks," he said on the House floor. "It will also prevent almost two million lost work days.

"If this legislation is enacted, these public health benefits will be lost, and more babies will be born with birth defects and learning disabilities," he added.

Later in the debate, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) argued that easing back on EPA rules would lead to increased deaths. "By increasing the incidence of emphysema, lung cancer, asthma and cardiac diseases, this bill will kill 25,000 Americans every year," he said.

As expected, Republicans rejected this forecast and said some accounting of the impact of EPA rules is needed, given that there are so many of them. The GOP also tied the need for the bill to job creation.

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"It appears that the only place where the job situation is good is at federal regulatory agencies," Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said. "Employment at federal regulatory agencies has climbed 13 percent since President Obama took office, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6 percent.

"I believe that these two divergent trends are related, because the breakneck pace at which the Environmental Protection Agency is cranking out new regulations is creating obstacles to job creation in America, and also to stimulating the economy."

The House embarked on a two-hour debate of the bill Thursday evening, a longer-than-usual time seemingly designed mostly to accommodate several speakers from both sides. Democrats reiterated several times that they believe the bill would permanently kill the two pending EPA regulations, while Republicans said it would simply delay those rules until after a report is released on the effects of EPA rules.