Unhealthy Lobbying

The President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Steve Roberts, wants West Virginia's Senators Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller to "withhold voting to advance national health care reform until the Obama Administration, particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, backs down on its campaign against coal." One of the measures that Roberts objects to in particular are moves by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten sulphur dioxide emission standards. The EPA states that the proposed rule changes are intended to protect the health of people with asthma and notes that "children and the elderly are especially susceptible to the health problems associated with breathing SO2." They estimate that tighter pollution standards would yield health benefits of between $16 billion and $100 billion from "reduced hospital admissions, emergency room visits, work days lost, cases of aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis, among others."