Monday, November 14, 2005

The week ahead: states reject Bush mercury plan; 15th anniversary of Clean Air Act amendments

A few quick notes on the week ahead:

First, The New York Times reports this morning that state and local air pollution control officers have developed a better alternative to the Bush administration’s industry-friendly mercury pollution plan.

The idea behind the state/local plan would be to require quicker and deeper reductions in mercury than the Bush plan. The state strategy would not permit power companies to “trade” mercury with each other, as the Bush plan would do.

This is a real repudiation of the Bush administration’s do-little approach to mercury. Since this is a “model rule” – that is, a suggested alternative to state agencies, the battleground now will shift to the states, as authorities debate this plan versus the Bush plan. (Folks outside of DC should be mindful for that reason.) I think you will find that health and environmental groups will continue to argue for something tougher than this state/local plan.

Even so, this plan is a real step in the right direction. The Bush administration ought to feel humiliated. Its record on this issue has been so lackluster that states are moving ahead with a better strategy – as they are on other environmental issues including global warming and cleaner cars.

I am told the state plan will be unveiled officially at a luncheon briefing today, at 12:30 pm EST.

Hall of the States – Room 233
444 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC
Conference call line available: 1-800-376-6136; access code: 832177#

For more, call Bill Becker at (202) 624-7864

ALSO THIS WEEK: Tomorrow marks an anniversary: the 15th anniversary of the signing of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. That’s the last time that major changes were made to the 1970 law. Though the law is imperfect (it doesn’t deal, for example, with global warming pollution), it has brought real benefits to America: much cleaner cars and SUVs; cleaner gasoline; big reductions in industrial toxic pollutants [except for mercury from power plants, as noted above!]; large reductions in smog-and soot-forming emissions, and many other benefits.

As we noted last week in our 2005 smog survey [ ], pollution problems still persist in many parts of the nation. But we are making progress, and we need to stay the course. It is deplorable that the Bush administration has decided to slacken enforcement efforts against the electric power industry and has spent so much energy lobbying Congress to give other breaks to polluters. Our air would be cleaner today if the administration were enforcing the law effectively.


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