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Health Orgs: Bill Proposed to Cut Gas Prices Deceptive

May 17, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Gas prices are high, and federal legislation entitled the Gasoline Regulations Act (HR 4471) is being touted as way to help curb them. However, some groups say the bill's name is deceptive. It would require an analysis of the potential effects on gas, diesel and natural gas prices resulting from enactment of certain rules and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

Peter Iwanowicz, director of the American Lung Association Healthy Air Campaign, says his group and several others oppose the bill. It will do nothing to roll back gas prices, he adds.

"Blaming the EPA for the recent rise in gasoline prices is misdirected. Certainly, the EPA has imposed standards that protect clean air, but the public is smart. They understand that EPA isn't the cause of rising gas prices - it's a global issue."

According to Iwanowicz, the legislation would block the EPA from proposing any future standards to reduce harmful emissions from refineries. It would reverse 40 years of history regarding the way the EPA sets the health standard for ozone, he warns.

"In Virginia, ozone is a pervasive pollutant that causes a lot of problems for people with lung disease, particularly children."

He says one-third of children who have asthma in Virginia live in an area that fails the American Lung Association's clean-air test for ozone - a reality that Amy Paulson, a Chesapeake mother of two, knows all too well. She says her husband and 9-year-old son both suffer from asthma.

"It's very apparent. My son plays soccer; he's outside a lot. When we have poor air-quality days, my son really, really struggles with being able to breathe and being able to participate and lead a normal life."

Critics of EPA regulations often cite costs to business as a reason. Paulson says big energy companies, like all other businesses, will have to make adjustments for safety - in this case, the public's health.

The Petroleum Marketing Association of America, based in Arlington, and the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers support the bill, while the American Heart Association and National Association of City & County Health Officials oppose it.

The bill was referred to a committee and may get a hearing as early as today.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA