Megan Severson,
Wisconsin Environment Research and Policy Center

Congressman Petri Supports Polluters over Health of Children

For Immediate Release

Madison – More than 85,000 residents in and around Representative Petri's district with asthma, including over 19,000 children, are at increased risk of adverse health consequences if he is successful in preventing the US EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards, according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council and released by Wisconsin Environment . Representative Petri has received more than $165,000 from polluters, many of which have made stopping the EPA a high priority.

Underscoring the severity of the problem, 525,265 residents statewide suffer from asthma including 123,734 children. EPA scientists have determined that carbon dioxide endangers public health, in part because it contributes to warmer temperatures, which make it easier for smog pollution to develop and harder to reduce it. Smog is particularly dangerous to asthma sufferers. Warmer temperatures are also associated with increased morbidity and mortality due to increased severe weather events, such as hurricanes and floods; the spread of infectious disease; and heat-related illnesses, all of which incur additional health care costs.

Representative Petri has cosponsored legislation intended to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting air pollution. In addition, he voted in favor of a funding bill (HR 1) on February 19 that, among other things, blocks the EPA from limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources. That action amounts to the biggest attack on the health and environment of Wisconsinites in recent history. By blocking new air pollution limits, he would put the public’s health at risk by allowing polluters to continue emitting unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air.

“Putting the EPA in a political stranglehold sentences tens of thousands of Wisconsinites to more of the pollution that worsens respiratory and other illnesses such as asthma, adding to the burden of chronic disease in the nation and increasing the financial burden to the health care system,” said Scott Thompson, clean energy associate with Wisconsin Environment. “Let’s be clear: If Representative Petri is successful in blocking the EPA from doing its job to cut life-threatening carbon pollution, more asthma sufferers, particularly children, will wind up gasping for breath.”

Health professionals are concerned about the direction Congress is headed in when it comes to air pollution. Nearly 300 national and local health groups and other organizations recently called on Congress to fully support the EPA’s efforts to limit air pollution In addition, nearly 2,000 doctors, nurses and other individual health care professionals recently urged Congress not to block EPA efforts to limit air pollution.

“Our elected representatives should hold big polluters accountable, not help them block the strong safeguards that would protect our health and quality of life,” said Dan Lashof, an environmental scientist and Director of NRDC’s Climate Center. “Unfortunately, these dirty air boosters are choosing to stand up for the polluters instead of public health. They voted for the dirtiest, most irresponsible bill I have ever seen come out of the House or Senate. We think the scientists and experts at the EPA should decide what pollution limits are needed, not politicians whose careers have been supported by big polluters.”

The U.S. House passed a “Continuing Resolution” funding bill (HR 1) on Feb 19, 2011, which blocks EPA from limiting carbon pollution from power plants. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, offered the amendment (No. 466) to this bill that was adopted and which would block EPA’s limits on carbon pollution from cars, power plants and other industrial sources.

Representative Petri supported H.R. 1 and Rep. Poe’s amendment and is a co-sponsor of H.R. 97 which would permanently allow unlimited carbon pollution.

SOURCES: Asthma prevalence estimates are from the American Lung Association’s “Estimated Prevalence and Incidence of Lung Disease by Lung Association Territory” which can be found at Please note that the asthma data is by county. Estimates of asthma prevalence “in and around” specific districts include the prevalence estimates for each county wholly or partly within the district. In urban areas where several districts may all include different parts of the same county, numbers will appear to be the same. Campaign contributions information is from Open Secrets ( and Federal Election Commission ( reports of contributions from oil and gas, electric utility, and coal and mining sectors. Top donors in these categories oppose key EPA safeguards.

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Wisconsin Environment is state-wide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization that works for clean air, clean water and open spaces.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at