By Deb Courson

The Clean Air Act has become a hotly debated topic in Congress in recent days. A flurry of amendments to a small business bill would have restricted the Act’s authority, and Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted against them. This week, new legislation is on its way to the Senate that attempts to remove regulation of carbon pollution emitted by factories and refineries.

Dave Tyler in Belgrade, Montana owns the Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool Company, and he says a guarantee of a clean environment is important to agricultural businesses.

“There seems to be the mistaken notion that you can tear down these environmental protections and that’ll improve the economy, and that’ll give us more jobs. That’s just a false notion.”

Tyler says businesses need market certainty to make investments in cleaner energy and new technologies to reduce pollution. And public health has to be acknowledged, too. He says clean air protections have prevented an estimated 160,000 deaths over the past 40 years.

“We’ve had a lot of history with the Clean Air Act. It’s been very successful in protecting the air that we breathe, and I think you can argue that it’s probably saved a lot of lives.”

The latest bill (HR 910) has already been approved by the House, with Montana’s Denny Rehberg casting a “yes” vote.

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) sponsored the legislation, and he says regulating that kind of air pollution would hurt the economy and lead to lost jobs.