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July 18, 2006


July 18, 2006


ATS Meets with EPA Administrator on Clean Air Standards


Last week, William Rom, M.D., Chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee and representatives from the physician and environmental health community, met with EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to discuss the forthcoming EPA standards for particulate matter pollution.  The purpose of the meeting was to encourage the EPA to issue stricter standards for particulate matter pollution.  By court order, EPA must issue revised Clean Air Act standards for particulate matter pollution by September 27, 2006.


In the meeting, Dr. Rom outlined the robust and growing body of scientific literature that supports the need for a more stringent standard on particle pollution.  Dr. Rom shared with Administrator Johnson recent studies that describe the mechanisms by which particle pollution leads to adverse respiratory and cardiovascular effects. 


Dr. Rom was joined by representatives from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Association for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the National Association for the Medical Direction of Respiratory Care.  All of which expressed support from the physician community for stricter standards for particle pollution.


In related news, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Clean Air Act standard setting process.  The hearing featured a number of witnesses who discussed the economic hardship faced by communities that are unable to meet the existing Clean Air standards – including loss of highway funds and inability to attract new businesses.  The hearing also featured a number of business representatives who questioned the cost/benefit of stricter clean air standards.


The Senate committee intends to hold a similar hearing next week that will review ways to make the standard setting and enforcement of the Clean Air Act more “friendly” to business interests. 


The ATS is concerned that the proposed changes to the Clean Air Act suggested by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will in fact hamper efforts to improve our nation’s air quality.


FristCommits to Vote on Stem Cell Research Legislation

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced that in July the Senate would vote on the Stem Research Enhancement Act (S. 471), to change the federal policy on stem cell research.  The legislation would significantly alter current federal policy by requiring the federal government conduct and support embryonic stem cell research, regardless of the date on which the stem cell lines were derived and provided that the embryos used were: originally created for in vitro fertilization; would otherwise be discarded; and were donated by fully informed, consenting individuals.


This legislation is being considered under a unique set of procedural rules and will require 60 votes, as opposed to a simple majority, to pass.  The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act has already been passed by the House of Representatives. 


ATS President John Heffner, M.D. has sent a letter to encouraging Senators to vote in support of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement.  In his letter to the Senate, Dr. Heffner explained the potential that stem cell research holds in addressing some of the most pressing health needs in the United States. 

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator