09/12/2011 02:25 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2011

Cantor's More Pollution, Less Jobs Agenda

Even though the U.S. House has already taken over 100 anti-environment votes this year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor proved in his recent memo to House Republicans that he's been busy this recess plotting a continuation of this pro-polluter agenda through the end of 2011. And while he may call it a "jobs agenda," the content of this memo clearly spells out a plan for more pollution and less jobs if successful.

Rep. Cantor takes aim at a dozen clean air protections in his proposed plan, including stripping the Clean Air Act's ability to protect public health from toxic air pollution, something that the law has effectively done for decades.

What's even more astounding is that Rep. Cantor seems to think eliminating protections for public health and the environment is a silver bullet for job creation, 7 of his top 10 legislative targets for repeal are clean air safeguards. And yet, in total these safeguards every year are creating thousands of jobs, saving tens of thousands of lives and protecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, Republican leadership is wrong to assume that sacrificing our nation's bedrock environmental and public health protections would lead to greater economic prosperity and more jobs. Analysis shows that the Clean Air Act is expected to deliver $2 trillion in net economic benefits between 1990-2020. For 40 years the EPA has implemented laws that safeguard our environment and protect public health while spurring innovations that have created countless jobs and saved consumers money. There is no reason why politicians in Congress should block the EPA from doing its job.

That Rep. Cantor is leading the charge to put corporate polluters ahead of public health should come as no surprise. Rep. Cantor has received over one million dollars in campaign cash from dirty energy interests over the course of his career, including $355,000 from oil and gas companies. And these corporate polluters have spent millions this year lobbying Congress. Oil companies have spent $75 million, electric utilities have spent $74 million and coal companies have spent $9 million to ensure they get their way.

And we've seen corporate polluters cry wolf like this before, claiming that the cost of complying with clean air safeguards is too high. Yet from acid rain to CFCs this type of dirty energy industry opposition has consistently proven to be overblown, these public health protections are most often achieved cheaper and quicker than estimates and with the benefits far outweighing the costs.

With countless Americans facing economic hardship, it's outrageous to suggest that the government should impose additional burdens by putting a hold on protecting public health. Standing in the way of the EPA's ability to finalize and implement these protections would jeopardize the water we drink and air we breathe, endangering the health and well-being of all Americans.

With the Obama administration recently caving to corporate polluters and allowing them a free pass by dropping the EPA-proposed ozone rule, it's more important than ever that they stand up to continued attacks by dirty energy interests and their allies in Congress on necessary public health protections.