Senate Committee Rejects Breathtaking Attack On Clean Air Act

On Martch 9th, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee reached an impasse on the Clear Skies legislation. Locked in a 9-9 vote, Senators failed to report the bill out of the Committee. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to imminently finalize a superior administrative clean air plan, dubbed the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), that would cut soot and smog pollution from power plant smokestacks without weakening long-standing Clean Air Act safeguards.

"All Americans can breathe a little easier because nine courageous senators withstood a fierce lobbying effort to weaken the Clean Air Act," said Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp. "We look forward to EPA swiftly finalizing the Clean Air Interstate Rule."

"The Clear Skies legislation is a breathtaking attack on our nation's bedrock clean air protections," said Environmental Defense legislative director Elizabeth Thompson.

The nine Senators that voted against the bill include: Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Barack Obama (D-IL).

The Clear Skies Bill, which is the single greatest 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;
  • Ignore the pressing problem of global warming;
  • 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 Clean Air Interstate Rule 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 without weakening long-standing Clean Air Act protections.

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