Today a U.S. Senate panel will hear testimony in preparation for full committee consideration of air pollution legislation recently reintroduced by Senators Inhofe (R-OK) and Voinovich (R-OH). The unpopular legislation languished for two years in the 108th Congress before being reintroduced earlier this week. Also known as the “Corporate Air Pollution Plan,” the legislation takes huge strides backwards in the fight to reduce airborne emissions from industrial polluters nationwide by slashing current Clean Air Act protections, denying millions of people clean, healthy air and undermining state and federal efforts to enforce current law.
“The Corporate Air Pollution Plan puts decades of progress in improving air quality and public health on the chopping block,” said Earthjustice’s Maria Weidner. “By reintroducing this unpopular, controversial legislation, the Bush administration grossly underestimates the American public. No amount of window dressing is going to convince people that gutting the Clean Air Act is a step in the right direction for public health,” Weidner asserted.
Some of the most egregious ways the Corporate Air Pollution Plan would attempt to undercut current law include:
- Allowing power plants to release twice as much soot-forming sulfur dioxide, and more than one-and-one-half times as much smog-forming nitrogen oxides, for nearly a decade longer;
- Allowing coal-burning power plants to emit nearly seven times as much toxic mercury for a decade longer;
- Repealing provisions requiring major industrial sources to install state-of-the-art pollution control technologies when they increase their pollution output; and
- Impeding states’ efforts to protect their citizens from pollution originating in upwind states.
“This initiative is an absolute sham,” said Jim Cox, Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. “The administration is pretending to ‘clear the air’ by using only smoke and mirrors,” Cox stated. “The dirty little secret behind this proposal is that it makes the air more hazardous to the health of Americans, for generations longer than current law allows.”
“The current Clean Air Act requires that industrial polluters be good neighbors and control their harmful emissions,” said Weidner, “Changing the law to take these critical protections away not only hurts public health across the nation, it is an unpardonable abuse of the trust placed in federal elected officials by the American public.”