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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Rep. Kuster’s Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Passes House

Sep 18, 2019
Press Release

Congresswoman Kuster Speaks on the floor about H.R. 1618. Watch here.

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the House unanimously passed H.R. 1618, the Zachary and Nicholas Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, which was introduced by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) to create a new grant program to install carbon monoxide alarms in the homes of elderly and low-income individuals, as well as schools and other public facilities. The bill also provides incentives for states to pass laws that require carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced whenever fossil fuels are burned. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 400 deaths and 20,000 emergency room visits caused by carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

“As a mother, I know there is nothing more important than keeping our children and loved ones safe,” said Rep. Kuster. “This legislation will help save lives by combatting deadly yet entirely preventable carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m thrilled to see this commonsense measure pass the House and I urge the Senate to bring it swiftly to a vote and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

“I am so pleased at the passing of HR 1618, and would like to thank Congresswoman Kuster for all of her hard work on this legislation,” said Paul J. Parisi, New Hampshire State Fire Marshal. “Unfortunately, here in New Hampshire we experience tragic, unintentional carbon monoxide deaths on an annual basis, such as the unfortunate deaths of John and April Courtney of Lyman in the beginning of the year.  By providing grant funding for carbon monoxide alarms and education on the importance of detection equipment, lives will be saved. I hope the Senate will also see the importance of this bill and vote favorably upon it.”   

The Zachary and Nicholas Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act has been endorsed by 15 of the nation’s leading public safety advocacy groups, including the Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, Kids in Danger, Public Citizen, and Safe Kids Worldwide. This legislation is named after four-year-old Zachary and 16 month-old Nicholas Burt, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning when the furnace in their family’s home malfunctioned and was releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide – the house was not equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm.

Watch Rep. Kuster speak on the House floor in support of H.R. 1618 here or read her full remarks below:

More than twenty years ago, Cheryl and Todd Burt experienced an unimaginable tragedy when their two of their sons, Zachary and Nicholas, died as result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Zachary was four years old. Nicholas was only 16 months.

Cheryl, Todd, and their eldest son Ryan barely made it out of their home alive on that cold January evening.

Today, the House is considering H.R. 1618, Zachary and Nicholas Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act. This legislation is named in honor of Zachary and Nicholas, but its truly for the 400 Americans who die, and the 20,000 who are hospitalized, every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Among them are two of my constituents, John and April Courtney, from Lyman, NH who lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning in February of this year.   

While it happens most frequently in cold winter months, carbon monoxide poisoning happens all across this country.

As a mother and an aunt, I know there is nothing more important than keeping our children and loved ones safe.

That is why I am proud the House is preparing to vote on my bipartisan legislation, which provides funding for states to prevent future carbon monoxide related deaths by educating the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the importance of properly installing alarms in their homes.

It also supports the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in housing for elderly and low-income individuals, and high traffic public buildings like schools.

This bipartisan legislation will help save lives.

I would like to thank my distinguished colleague, Buddy Carter, for working on this bill with me and helping build a consensus for it in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

At a time when Congress so often seems divided, this legislation is proof that we can work together to find common-ground and get things done to help our constituents.

I would also like to thank Chairman Pallone and Chairwoman Schakowsky for making this piece of legislation a priority and including it in this package of bills being voted on today.

Finally, I would like to recognize Anna Yu and Alex Chasick, from the Energy and Commerce Committee staff, and Hart Thompson and Nick Schemmel, from Congressman Carter’s office, for collaborating with my team to move this legislation forward.

I am proud that this bill is supported by a diverse coalition of public safety and industry groups.

I intend to insert five letters for the record.

A letter from 15 national organizations representing consumers throughout the United States, including the Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, Kids in Danger, Public Citizen, and Safe Kids Worldwide, among many others, urging strong support by members of the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2019.

A letter of support from the National Association of State Fire Marshals, who have worked with my office on this legislation for many years.

A letter of support from the National Association of Homebuilders

A letter of support from Consumer Reports

And a letter from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Again, this piece of legislation will help save lives, and I encourage all my colleagues to vote in favor of it.