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Wednesday September 21, 2011 | 10:34 AM

(Updated below) A family from Maine will be among those at a Capitol Hill news conference later today asserting that the Clean Air Act is under attack by congressional Republicans who want to limit or halt entirely various Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The news conference is being held by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cal., the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and will include public health experts from the American Lung Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The focus will be a pending House GOP bill seeking to block EPA regulations curtailing power plant pollution such as smog, soot and mercury that spreads across state lines.

The Conley family from Raymond also will focus on a bill co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, seeking to delay EPA regulations limiting emissions from industrial boilers. The bill, co-authored with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, would give the Environmental Protection Agency 15 months to re-examine the issue and come up with final rules. It would also extend compliance deadlines for businesses that use boilers from three years to five.

The legislation – other co-sponsors are GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of
Tennessee and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana – is similar to a bill pending in the House. The bill would, “direct EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable by real-world” boilers and “impose the least burdensome regulator alternatives,” according to a joint release by Collins and the other lawmakers.

The Conley family (Mark, Lisa and their 10-year-old son Jake, an asthma sufferer) and other members of the American Lung Association of Maine will also focus on Collins’ bill in addition to the House GOP bill, according to the lung association. The House GOP bill could be voted on this week.

All “these threats to healthy air are putting Maine families, like the Conleys, and Maine’s clean energy businesses and the Maine brand at risk,” according to the lung association.

The lung association notes that House Republicans aren’t the only ones that environmentalists are unhappy with over concerns that anti-pollution regulations are under attack. The Obama administration recently agreed to delay in imposing scheduled ozone limits.

(Updated: At the news conference Wednesday, the Conley family stood with Boxer and other lawmakers, American Lung Association officials and health experts as the Democratic senators and others decried the House GOP bill, which they charged is aimed at indefinitely blocking regulations protecting air quality from pollutants emitted by power plants and other sources.

Mark Conley, Jakes’s father, said that his 11-year-old’s body was like a canary in a coal mine, able to tell early when air quality was suffering from pollution, and he said as the owner of a small heating and air conditioning company he called on politicians and businesses to realize that any short-term savings from blocking clean air regulations would be more than offset by the long-term costs to health. When asked about the Collins/Wyden bill delaying boiler emission regulations, Boxer said she had major concerns about it and planned to speak with Wyden, her fellow Democrat from Oregon.

A similar boiler emissions bill is pending in the House, and sponsors include Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd.

Conley said in an interview late Wednesday that he and his family had their chance to air their problems with the Collins/Wyden bill to a Collins staffer during a meeting at Collins’ office. He said the family came away convinced that Collins would listen to their concerns about the health impact of delaying new EPA boiler emission regulations, and work to fix potential problems for businesses while taking into account the need to maintain standards that cleaned up the emissions.

While the American Lung Association isn’t happy with Collins’ boiler emissions bill, it also recently issued a public “thank you” to the Maine Republican for her vote against a Senate GOP leadership attempt to permanently ban the EPA from regulating climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.

A Collins spokesman said that Collins' “bipartisan (boiler) bill would help the EPA protect the environment and public health while ensuring that manufacturers in Maine and throughout the country are not faced with needlessly onerous burdens at a time when many are struggling to maintain jobs.  Her bill…would provide the EPA with the 15-months that the agency itself requested to better analyze the best methods for implementing workable regulations.  And, it would give businesses adequate time to comply with the requirements the EPA adopts.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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