Colorado groups leery of Gardner, GOP ‘reining in’ EPA on Clean Air Act

Conservation groups are girding for battle in what they claim is a coming assault on the Clean Air Act by U.S. House Republicans, including Colorado congressmen Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn.

Environment Colorado today issued a release ahead of the State of the Union address urging President Barack Obama “to protect the nation’s public health against threats from dirty energy lobbyists and their allies in Congress.”

“While laws like the Clean Air Act have helped to reduce emissions of many of the most dangerous pollutants, the job is far from done,” Environment Colorado field organizer Scott Wozencraft said. “Air pollution continues to cut short the lives of thousands of Americans each year, trigger tens of thousands of asthma attacks, poison our waterways with mercury and other toxins, and fuel global warming.”

Monday, Fort Collins-based Clean Water Action launched a door-to-door campaign called “Clean Air, Healthy Colorado” aimed at tracking the policies and statements of Gardner and Democratic U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.

Gardner, a former state representative who beat out Democrat Betsy Markey in November, has been assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The chairman of that committee, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., earlier this month co-authored an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal targeting the “unconstitutional power grab” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in attempting to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Gardner recently told the Fort Collins Coloradoan he will increase oversight in order to rein in regulators.

“Clearly, oversight is going to be a key feature, and that is not only limited to the energy side or the environment side, but the health-care side as well,” Gardner said. “And so oversight, and reining in what many members of the committee see as a rule-making, regulatory process that has gone unchecked.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act, and in 2009 the EPA release two findings allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.

“Using our door-to-door, phone, email, and mail outreach programs, Clean Water Action will give thousands of members in northern Colorado the opportunity to learn what their federal lawmakers are doing on key issues impacting clean air, clean water, and public health,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. “In addition, Coloradans need to know that the U.S. EPA is America’s front-line defender of the Clean Air Act, which supports clean energy that will create jobs and protect the economy.”

Last month the EPA announced its timeframe for setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions by power plants and refineries.

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