2000 Scorecard Vote
Ground-level ozone, also known as smog, is a highly reactive gas that irritates the respiratory tract and can lead to permanent lung damage. Prolonged exposure to high levels of ozone is particularly dangerous for small children, senior citizens, and the millions of Americans who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases.
In 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that a safe level of ozone is 0.12 parts per million over a one-hour period. Under the Clean Air Act, states with higher smog levels were required to develop pollution control plans to bring them into compliance with this standard. In 1997, in response to a growing body of scientific evidence, EPA determined that the ozone standard was not sufficient to protect public health and issued a more protective standard: 0.08 parts per million over an 8-hour period. This new standard will substantially reduce the risk of permanent lung damage for millions of at-risk Americans.
The new standard was immediately challenged in court by a wide array of industries and some states that wanted to avoid clean up. A federal appeals court stayed EPA from enforcing the new rule pending an appeal to the Supreme Court, but allowed them to continue gathering information to designate areas that violate the new standard.
During consideration of H.R. 4635, the 2001 VA-HUD and Independent Agencies appropriations bill, Representatives John Linder (R-GA) and Michael Collins (R-GA) proposed a rider that would prohibit EPA from identifying areas that fail to meet the new ozone standard. This would, in effect, delay EPA from informing communities that their air quality violates federal health standards and would, in turn, delay state and federal clean air planning.
On June 21, 2000, the House approved the Linder-Collins amendment, 225–199 (House roll call vote 305). NO is the pro-environment vote. In October, the Senate also passed a VA-HUD appropriations bill that included restrictions on EPA's ability to gather and disseminate information on ozone levels to citizens. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered an amendment to strip the air right to know rider from the bill on the Senate floor; however, her amendment failed to pass.