WASHINGTON - A member of the Project 21 black leadership network is criticizing the American Lung Association for the misleading nature of its billboard campaign denouncing Rep. Fred Upton.
Upton has introduced legislation, the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," that bars the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing costly and job-killing carbon dioxide regulations without congressional approval.
The billboards say, "Rep. Fred Upton, protect our kids' health. Don't weaken the Clean Air Act." The billboards feature a photo of a girl wearing a mask to assist her breathing.
Upton's legislation would not weaken the pollution-control elements of the Clean Air Act, but prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide, which is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide regulations have nothing to do with our childrens' ability to breathe.
"It's outrageous that a charity purportedly dedicated to health issues is exploiting children to protect the EPA's power grab," said Project 21 full-time fellow Deneen Borelli. "The American Lung Association of Michigan's action against Congressman Upton puts the group's reputation at risk of becoming known as just another liberal front group trying to manipulate public opinion through fear and deception."
One billboard is situated directly opposite Upton's Kalamazoo office.
After the Democratic majority in the Senate declined to adopt a "cap-and-trade" emissions bill in the last congressional session, President Barack Obama ordered the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gases. He did so under the authority of a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling determining that, although Congress did not state so explicitly at the time (and did not consider carbon dioxide a pollutant at the time), Congress intended for the EPA to have this authority under the Clean Air Act. Upton's bill specifies that Congress will retain this lawmaking authority for the legislative branch.
"It's up to Congress to write the laws, and there is little enthusiasm among elected leaders to regulate our nation's energy industry so that prices will skyrocket," added Project 21's Borelli. "The biggest health risks will be derived from the economic consequences of EPA's regulation greenhouse gas emissions. When families end of paying more and more for power, they will have less to spend on medical care, education and savings."
A 2010 report by Management Information Services estimated EPA regulation of carbon dioxide could destroy 2.5 million jobs by 2030 and lower the average American household income by $1,200 a year. And, while emissions regulation is expected to increase energy prices, a new study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that lower-to-middle-class families are already paying much more for energy than they did just a decade ago -- a 12 percent to 20 percent increase of after-tax income, for example, for a family earning less than $50,000 a year.
"Transferring regulatory authority back to elected lawmakers merely stops a radical agenda at the EPA that will raise energy prices. Carbon dioxide is what we exhale -- it doesn't cause cancer or acid rain," said Borelli. "This is not the American Lung Association's fight, and their intervention -- in light of receiving EPA funding -- also questions the intent."
According to the EPA's online Grant Awards Database, the American Lung Association of Michigan received $78,000 from the EPA over the past decade. Grants to the Association and its affiliates during that time total over $20 million.
Project 21, a black conservative group, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research