ShareThis Page
News

'Green' groups attack Altmire

| Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

Two environmental groups on Thursday began airing a television ad attacking U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire for "siding with corporate polluters" by voting for bills to block or repeal Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on airborne toxins from boilers, incinerators, power plants and other sources.

The nonprofit League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund spent $350,000 to produce the 32-second ad that will run for two weeks on network and cable channels in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District, which runs from New Castle to Murrysville. The ad is offered amid growing debate between clean air advocates and energy companies over implementing EPA regulations intended to cut the amount of carcinogens, smog and soot caused by power plants and heavy industry.

It urges people to tell Altmire, a McCandless Democrat, "to stop voting against kids' health." It cites a 2009 federal study that says the mercury level in 9 percent of women of child-bearing age in the Northeast is generally higher than levels found in women ages 16-49 elsewhere.

Altmire said in a statement that the ad was a baseless, negative attack engineered by an out-of-state special interest group.

"When I travel around Western Pennsylvania to discuss the factors holding back our economic recovery, onerous EPA regulations are at the top of the list," Altmire said. He said he voted to block "heavy-handed" regulations that would raise electricity rates and make it impossible for energy producers who employ Pennsylvanians to compete.

"I represent 700,000 residents of Western Pennsylvania and live here myself, along with my family," said Altmire. "To imply that I would support any legislation that would promote an unhealthy environment and pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink is preposterous."

Peter Altman, of the NRDC Action Fund, said the groups are targeting Altmire because of his repeated votes against clean air rules covering cross-state pollution and his district's proximity to Pittsburgh, a metro area that often registers unusually poor air quality.

A 2010 study by the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based nonprofit environmental group, found the nation's highest yearly rates of mortality risk from coal-fired power plant pollution are in areas around Johnstown; Cumberland, Md.; Steubenville, Ohio; and Weirton, W.Va.

An EPA air toxin assessment released in March put Allegheny in the top 10 percent of counties nationwide for the risk of cancer or neurological diseases from breathing outdoor air pollutants.

"Pennsylvania is one of the states that stands to gain the most in terms of health benefits from letting the EPA do its job," Altman said. "He should be standing up for the health of constituents, not for polluters."

Similar TV ads criticized the "dirty air votes" of U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and Tim Holden, D-Schuylkill, and legislators in Massachusetts, Montana and Michigan, said Kate Geller, a spokeswoman for the League of Conservation Voters.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me