On February 16th, Environmental Defense called the decision by Senator Inhofe (R-OK) to postpone the Environment and Public Works committee vote on the Clear Skies bill a clear signal that many members of the committee understand that the bill is not about emissions reductions but about eliminating numerous public health protections in the Clean Air Act. Environmental Defense continues to urge committee members to recognize that the bill is not necessary because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already has a plan, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), to cut power plant emissions.
"It's hard to dream up a more damaging assault on the quality of air in America than Clear Skies," said Environmental Defense legislative director Elizabeth Thompson. "The delayed committee vote sends a message that many members recognize that Clear Skies is not about clearing the air, but about clearing a path for polluters."
"Let's stop debating an unnecessary bill that would gut the Clean Air Act and get back to the business of improving air quality and protecting public health," said Thompson.
The Clear Skies Bill, which is the single most direct attack on the Clean Air Act in the last thirty years, would:
- Postpone deadlines by up to seven years to restore healthy air for the nation's largest cities, such as New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia;
- Delay reductions in toxic mercury pollution from power plants by nearly a decade;
- Repeal the Clean Air Act requirement for each coal-fired power plant to install the maximum controls to lower mercury pollution;
- Weaken the long-standing requirement for new coal-fired power plants to install the best available pollution control technology;
- Exempt industrial boilers from air toxic pollution control programs;
- Eliminate safeguards to preserve and enhance air quality in premier national parks; and
- Gut states' rights to protect their citizens from upwind power plant pollution.
The CAIR is an immediate and cost-effective way to cut dangerous power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy soot and smog pollution across the eastern United States. A protective CAIR could prevent up to 16,000 premature deaths and 1 million asthma attacks in children annually.
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