PNS Daily Newscast - April 18, 2019 

The DOJ and Bill Barr said to plan on Mueller time – without Mueller. Also on the Thursday rundown: The Keystone State considers cap and trade. Plus, the RECLAIM Act aims to invest in coal communities.

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Closed-Door Congressional Meetings Raise Fears for Environmental Advocates

Portions of the Clean Air Act could be in jeopardy. (erdenebayar/morguefile)
Portions of the Clean Air Act could be in jeopardy. (erdenebayar/morguefile)
January 11, 2017

LANSING Mich. – Closed-door sessions in Washington, D.C., are raising red flags with some public health and environmental advocates, who believe Congress is trying to roll back important safeguards.

The Midnight Rule Relief Act, which passed the House last week, could eliminate any rule finalized in the last several months of the Obama administration with a single vote. And the REINS Act would require any new regulations be approved by the House of Representatives in order to take effect.

Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner says that would allow for a repeal of portions of the Clean Air Act and other protections.

"We have a commitment in this country that we're going to protect those things we all share: the quality of the water our kids drink, the air we breathe, the safety from toxic chemicals in our communities, and these are laws in many instances have been on the books for 10, 15, 20, 30 years and they've served us well," she explained.

Supporters say the legislation is simply regulatory reform aimed at improving government accountability and transparency. Browner, however, says the bills would affect critical public-health laws that reduce carbon pollution from vehicles, oil and gas infrastructure, power plants and other sources.

Ken Fletcher, the director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Michigan says the country has made good progress in improving air quality over the past few decades, but there is still a long way to go. He says air quality is a serious health issue for all Michiganders, not just children, asthmatics or the elderly.

"Healthy people who work outside, on a daily basis, people in construction, outside, all day, every day breathing it, you can cause problems for those who are already healthy," he said.

Browner says when it comes to the health and well-being of the American public, it's no place for political rhetoric.

"They want it both ways," she said. "They want to be able to pass laws saying 'We're for clean air,' but they don't really want the agencies to ever implement those laws and require actual reduction in greenhouse-gas pollution, air pollution that contributes to things like asthma and premature death."

She adds that the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA also concerns her, given his previous attempts to overturn climate regulations. Pruitt's confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI