Clean Air Villain of the Month

October 2000


Urges the Villain to 'Come Clean'

(Washington, D.C. October 5, 2000) - The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today awarded its clean air "Villain of the Month" award to a "phantom" member of Congress who is trying behind closed doors to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's effort to clean up dirty diesel trucks and diesel fuel.

As Congress completes action on the EPA's budget bill, a member of the Senate or House secretly advanced an amendment -- clearly written by big polluters -- that would block the EPA cleanup plan until the National Academy of Sciences completed a new study of the issue. The amendment was crafted following a classic special-interest lobbying blitz by the American Petroleum Institute, the Cummins Engine Company and related interests.

"This amendment has one purpose -- to delay and kill the EPA cleanup plan," noted , the Clean Air Trust's executive director. "This dirty-air diversion is being done entirely in secret. It is time for the phantom author of this amendment to come clean and debate the issue publicly."

O'Donnell noted that most observers have fingered the staff of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who declared at a hearing last month that he wants Congress to overturn the EPA plan. Inhofe's staff has denied his involvement in this stealth maneuver. Another likely collaborator is Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), House Majority Whip and a supporter of both the oil industry and Texas Governor George W. Bush.

There are at least two people who could identify the phantom -- Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) and their respective staffs. They chair the Senate and House subcommittees that write EPA's budget.

"The real questions are why is this attack on a major clean-air proposal being done in secret -- and why are Senator Bond and Rep. Walsh allowing the miscreant to remain a dirty-diesel phantom?" O'Donnell added.