For Immediate Release
February 27, 2003
David Willett, 202-675-6698
Bush Air Plan Will Increase Mercury, other pollutants
Bill introduced days after EPA report on dangers of mercury
Washington, DC: Representatives Billy Tauzin (R-La) and Joe Barton (R-TX) today re-introduced the Bush Administration's plan to weaken the Clean Air Act to allow more pollution than under current law. The so-called "Clear Skies" legislation will leave many communities at risk from continued or increased air pollution that causes smog, acid rain, asthma and lung disease. Similar action is expected in the Senate.
The Bush Administration bill includes plans to increase mercury emissions from current standards and comes just a few days after an EPA report discussed the alarming dangers to children from mercury.
"When technology and existing law can make the air even cleaner, why should Americans have to settle for a Bush Administration plan that allows industries to pollute more?" asked Carl Pope, Executive Director of Sierra Club.
Facts About the Bush Administration's Plan to Weaken the Clean Air Act
In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush touted a plan that calls for a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next
15 years. But why is the Administration bragging about a plan that will
actually result in more pollution then if we simply enforced the existing Clean Air Act? Who stands to benefit from placing communities at risk, particularly children and the elderly who are significantly threatened by air pollution?
Americans don't have to settle for only a 70 percent cut in air pollution when existing laws and existing technology mean that we can do better.
· The so-called "Clear Skies" initiative expands the pollution trading system that results in some communities getting cleaner, but many communities losing out on cleaner air. The two-stage plan isn't even fully in place for another 15 years. Even if the plan caused some net reductions in pollution, many communities would still be threatened by more pollution. Why should some local communities be left behind? And why should we wait so long?
· Mercury is a dangerous toxin that threatens people and wildlife as a pollutant from coal-fired power plants. The EPA estimates that enforcement of existing toxic air pollution protections in the Clean Air Act will limit mercury pollution to 5 tons per year by 2008. The Bush Administration's plan weakens the limit to 26 tons per year by 2010 - allowing 520 percent more mercury pollution. A new EPA report discusses the ways pregnant women pass mercury on to their babies, causing mental retardation, but why did the Administration sit on the report for more than nine months and only release it after journalists exposed their findings?
· Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) is a major contributor to smog that is linked to asthma and lung disease. Current Clean Air Act programs will result in NOx pollution levels of about 1.25 million tons by 2010. But the Bush plan calls for loosening the cap on NOx pollution to 2.1 million tons by 2008 - effectively allowing 68 percent more NOx pollution.
· Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) is the major contributor acid rain and soot. Clean Air Act programs reduce SO2 pollution levels to 2 million tons by 2012. The Bush Administration plan weakens protections to allow 4.5 million tons of SO2 by 2010 - allowing a staggering 225 percent more SO2 pollution.
· Despite repeated claims during the 2000 election that he would put forth legislation that would address CO2 emissions, the Administration's plan fails to set any limit on carbon dioxide emissions. Instead the Administration has called for a voluntary approach that will likely increase heat-trapping CO2 that causes global warming.
· By the 15th year of the Bush plan: 450,000 more tons of NOx, one million more tons of SO2, and 9.5 more tons of mercury would be allowed than under strong enforcement of existing Clean Air Act programs.
· The Bush plan creates a loophole exempting power plants from being held accountable to the Clean Air Act's New Source Review (NSR) standards and from being required to install cleanup technology (best available retrofit technology or BART). NSR standards require new power plants and upgraded plants to comply with modern federal emissions limits. BART protects communities from persistent haze and other air quality problems by reducing the pollution emitted from antiquated power plants.
· "Clear Skies" delays the enforcement of public health standards for smog and soot until the end of 2015.
· The Bush plan restricts the power of states to call for an end to pollution from upwind sources in other states. The plan prohibits any petitions of this sort from even being implemented before 2012.
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