As some of you know the Bush administration is trying to do away with the Clean Air Act and replace it with what he calls the "Clear Skies Initiative."
There are many Americans who are confused because "Clear Skies Initiative" sounds good and all, but what does it really do? I've done some research and found the following analysis to be very helpful.
This analysis was published by these 14 organizations: American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Water Action, Clear The Air, League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, World Wildlife Federation
The Bush administration's air pollution plan would weaken the public health protections of the current Clean Air Act. It would threaten public health and help big polluters by delaying and diluting cuts in power plants' sulfur, nitrogen and mercury pollution compared to timely enforcement of current law. It would roll back the current law's public health safeguards protecting local air quality, curbing pollution from upwind states, and restoring visibility in our national parks. Finally, it also would do nothing to curb power plants' growing emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.
Administration Plan Repeals, Weakens and Delays Clean Air Act Safeguards
Bush Plan Weakens Protection from Dangerous Soot and Smog
Current Clean Air Act: Dangerous levels of soot and smog are causing thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, and other illnesses each year. The Environmental Protection Agency and states must clean up dangerous soot and smog and ensure that most citizens breathe air that meets public health standards by 2010. Current law requires deep reductions in power plants' sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions within this decade to meet these public health standards. In September 2001, EPA told the industry's main lobby group, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), that existing law would cut power plants' soot-forming SO2 pollution from 11 million tons today to 2 million tons by 2012, and cut their smog-forming NOx pollution from 5 million tons today to 1.25 million tons by 2010.
Bush's Plan: The administration plan would delay deadlines for meeting public health standards, allowing violations of soot and smog health standards to continue until 2015 or later. Power plant pollution cuts would be delayed and diluted. Tens of millions of people would be denied healthy air, even as late as 2020 and beyond.
The administration plan would allow more than twice as much SO2 for nearly a decade longer (2010-2018), compared with faithful enforcement of the current Clean Air Act. After 2018, SO2 emissions would still be one and a half times higher than if current law is enforced.
The administration plan would allow more than one and a half times as much NOx for nearly a decade longer (2010-2018) and one third more NOx than current law, even after 2018.
The full pollution reductions are likely to be further delayed, to as late as 2025, because of emissions "banking" provisions.
Bush Plan Weakens Protection from Toxic Mercury
Current Clean Air Act: Power plants are the largest uncontrolled source of mercury, a neurological toxin that threatens the health of developing fetuses, children and other vulnerable populations. Each power plant must install the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for mercury emissions and other toxic air pollutants by the end of 2007, and then further limit any unacceptable health risks that remain. EPA told EEI in December 2001 that enforcing current law could cut power plant mercury pollution by nearly 90 percent, from 48 tons today to about 5 tons, by 2008.
Bush's Plan: The administration plan would eliminate the current law's health protections for mercury and other toxic air pollutants. Mercury reductions would be delayed and diluted. The administration plan would allow power plants to emit more than five times as much mercury for a decade longer (2010-2018) and three times as much after 2018 than current law. EPA data show that more than 100 power plants may actually increase mercury emissions, and that parts of New England, the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions, and other areas would experience only very small reductions in mercury deposition, and could experience increases.
Bush Plan Repeals Safeguards for Local Air Quality
The current Clean Air Act requires new power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution controls, and requires older "grandfathered" plants to install modern pollution controls when they are rebuilt or expanded in ways that increase pollution output. In areas with dirty air, new or expanded plants must offset their pollution increases.
Bush's Plan: The administration plan would effectively repeal these current air quality safeguards. Exemptions would not be limited to power plants, but would be available to plants in any industry sector.
Hamstrings Safeguards for Downwind States
Current Clean Air Act: When power plants in upwind states cause violations of air pollution health standards in downwind states, the downwind states can force those plants to cut their pollution.
Bush's Plan: The administration plan would effectively repeals this "state rights" provision. The Bush plan would prohibit downwind states from pursuing any pollution reductions from power plants in upwind states before 2012. The administration bill would increase the burden of proof after 2012, making nearly impossible to prove that upwind power plants are causing downwind pollution.
Bush Plan Weakens Safeguards for National Parks
Current Clean Air Act: Existing power plants must install modern pollution control equipment to curb the haze they cause in national parks and wilderness areas. New major industrial sources including power plants must not degrade air quality in national parks and wilderness areas.
Bush's Plan: The administration plan would repeal cleanup requirements for existing sources, and would fail to protect clean air in our parks by ignoring potential impacts on national parks in siting most new major sources of industrial pollution, including power plants.
I also found this site to be very helpful in educating myself on this subject...
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com