House Dems scrutinize Trump EPA air pollution policies

House Dems scrutinize Trump EPA air pollution policies
© Greg Nash

Top House Democrats are scrutinizing various controversial moves by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate or roll back air pollution regulations.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and the chairmen of two subcommittees in that panel wrote a letter probing the policies Monday, weeks after Democrats took the majority in the House. It shows that the Democrats plan to make oversight of the EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Air Act a priority.

“These actions are particularly alarming in light of the recent warnings underscoring the impacts of climate change on air quality and the health of the American people,” Pallone and Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants Republicans push back at first climate hearings Climate change on front burner after 8 years of GOP rule MORE (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid Dem chair asks FDA for documents on powerful new opioid Trump health official says agency would never have supported family separations MORE (D-Colo.) wrote in their Monday letter to acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler.

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“Congress and the public require a more detailed explanation of EPA's actions to assess the consequences of these policy changes.”

The inquiry focuses on five policy changes from the last two years: last month’s proposal to declare that the 2012 regulation on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants is not justified; a January 2018 decision to allow certain polluting facilities to be subject to less stringent pollution technology standards; a 2017 proposal to repeal pollution rules for certain heavy-duty trucks that use older engines; a May 2018 policy to consider the costs of ambient air pollution standards and various policies that the Democrats say have sidelined science in the emissions regulatory process.

The chairmen filled out three pages of their letter with specific questions and document requests related to the policies they’re scrutinizing.

EPA spokesman James Hewitt said the agency would respond to the letter through the appropriate channels.