Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Who gets the official Clean Air Watch Bird for 2005?

A few thoughts for those of you still chained to the desk (and, if you are, I sincerely hope you can get free soon):

Refinery update: Only weeks ago, members of both the U.S. House and Senate were clamoring for new legislation to weaken environmental standards because oil companies allegedly could not increase their refinery capacity. (At the time, we pointed out that refineries could indeed expand if they want to, and that we should not have to make a choice between clean air and adequate gas supplies.)

Lo and behold: There is a fascinating piece in today’s Christian Science Monitor which notes that oil companies have indeed begun expanding refinery capacity in recent weeks – without any changes in clean air requirements http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/p01s03-usec.html . Perhaps this will take the wind out of the sails of those ill-considered plans in Congress. (There is also a fascinating piece in today’s Washington Post on Senate attempts to protect oil company big-wigs, who obviously were in on the development Vice President Cheney’s drill-and-burn energy policy.)

EPA reconsiders interstate rules: The U.S. EPA says it will officially “reconsider” several aspects of its so-called “clean air interstate rule.” Usually, this does not reflect a true change of heart – merely a need to shore up a shaky legal foundation because of pending court challenges. One item involved: you may recall that EPA doctored its final rule to give more emission “credits” to coal-burning states – something that appears to have been a blatant political gift.

Attorneys general fight hot air: eight state attorneys general and the city of New York have written to the federal Department of Transportation, suggesting they may sue unless the agency relents on a plan that would only let the federal government regulate carbon dioxide exhaust. Please let me know if you want a copy.

And, finally, The Bird: we have been watching from a distance some disgraceful governmental activity in Kentucky and Ohio. The former recently scrapped its auto emission inspection program for the northern part of the state; the latter plans to eliminate such tests in the Cincinnati-Dayton area by the end of this year. (Their true motivations remain somewhat murky. I recall some years back that Maryland lawmakers delayed similar inspections in response to an outpouring of racist invective on local hate/talk radio: “I don’t want THEM PEOPLE getting into MY CAR to test it!” or so some talk-radio callers asserted.) Several things here are very clear: as the American Lung Association recently noted, this area still has a terrible smog problem. The Cincinnati metro area literally had 19 bad-air days this summer alone. And these moves to scrap auto inspections are blatantly illegal. (EPA rules specify that dirty-air states can’t just up and dump clean-up requirements.) Auto inspections aren’t perfect, but they do help limit pollution somewhat.

There are several major contenders for The Bird: Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher, who made a ghoulish Halloween appearance – apparently playing himself -- at an emission inspection station to declare an end to the program and the elimination of local jobs; the U.S. EPA, particularly its Regional Administrator Thomas Skinner, who is failing to enforce the law. But we think The Bird should go to Ohio EPA Director Joe Koncelik, who has the audacity to scrap this cleanup program while simultaneously whining to Congress that his state can’t meet federal smog standards on time. For that, Joe Koncelik, you get The Bird.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Get ready, because December will be a big month for clean air.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

EPA to reconsider part of its interstate pollution rule

The US EPA quietly announced this afternoon that it would reconsider part of its interstate pollution cleanup rule -- the so-called "Clean Air Interstate" or "CAIR" rule.

This is in response to petitions by various power companies and groups (See list below).

Among the items to be looked at: EPA's decision to steer extra "credits" to coal states.


Petitions for reconsideration were filed by:
1. State of North Carolina;
2. FPL Group;
3. Florida Association of Electric Utilities;
4. Entergy Corporation;
5. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection;
6. Integrated Waste Services Association;
7. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;
8. Northern Indiana Public Service Corporation;
9. City of Amarillo, Texas, El Paso Electric Company, Occidental Permian Ltd, and Southwestern Public Service Company d/b/a/ Xcel Energy;
10. Connecticut Business and Industry Association; and
11. Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, Inc.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

EPA career scientists: people are dying at current smog levels

A science note: As you may know, the EPA is under a court agreement to decide if the current (1997) 8-hour ozone standard remains adequate to protect people’s health in light of newer scientific studies.

They’re a long way from making a decision; indeed, the court won’t require that decision until 2007.

Even so, EPA’s career scientists have begun distilling the massive volumes of science. They have just published the first draft “staff paper” which seeks to put the often-esoteric scientific studies into some coherent summary -- a 390-page summary! See at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/ozone/data/O3-SP-11-14-05a.pdf

Based on this assessment by EPA scientists, it looks as if a very good argument could be made that the current 8-hour ozone standard needs to be made tighter to protect people’s health.

There are some interesting tidbits in this summary by the EPA scientists:

The agency scientists conclude there is “strong evidence” between exposure to ozone and premature death. [p 6-8]. In fact, the report estimates the smog-related death tolls in a number of cities, using 2004 [as we noted in our recent smog survey, a year with generally low ozone due to cool weather and rain]. The cities include New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. See charts beginning at page 5-41.

The scientists conclude there would still be some smog-related premature death, even if the current standards were met.

“These initial analyses suggest that meeting the current 8-hour O3 standard would likely
result in substantial reductions in exposures of concern and associated risks of serious health
effects above a level of 0.08 ppm O3. On the other hand, these analyses also suggest that there is risk of moderate or greater lung function decrements in children, hospital admissions, and
mortality from O3 resulting from exposures across the range of levels allowed by the current
standard.” [p. 6-14]


The EPA scientists also conclude that ozone seems to have a more harmful impact on those with asthma than previously believed [p. 6-6], that exposure to ozone drives up hospital admissions for people with respiratory problems [p. 6-7] and that it appears to increase school absenteeism.

The agency scientists said they hope to examine the “risks” to public health at potentially more restrictive standards:

“After consideration of the entire body of experimental and epidemiological evidence, the
results of exposure and risk assessments and the consideration of non-quantifiable effects, such
as the effects of repeated exposures and potentially greater effects on people with asthma, it is
staff’s view that it is appropriate to conduct additional exposure and risk assessments down to an alternative standard level as low as 0.06 ppm.” [p. 6-20]

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 [ http://www.cleanairwatchpressroom.blogspot.com/ ], 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.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Oil Giants: "We Can Make the Clean Diesel Fuel:

An interesting item that didn’t get much attention when the five oil giants appeared this week before a Senate panel:

They all said they would have no trouble meeting EPA’s ultra-low-sulfur diesel requirements at their refineries next year. (See transcript, below.)

In response to questions by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the heads of ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and BP ALL said they would be able to meet the clean-fuel requirements. “We can meet it at the refinery,” noted ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond.

This is extremely positive news. Oil industry lobbies previously have raised continuing concerns about the standards, but these comments by the oil giants should put those concerns to bed for good.

The oil executives did note there are still some issues regarding the need to flush older, dirtier fuel from pipelines. But as you probably know, the U.S. EPA has issued a rule that would grant a brief delay in the distribution requirements in order to work those kinks out of the system. That should be enough to allay any lingering concerns.

We are now quite optimistic that the clean-diesel standards will move ahead, and dramatically cleaner trucks and buses will be on the roads within a little more than a year.

These clean-fuel requirements are crucial for reducing the health risk from diesel fumes. EPA has noted that its highway and offroad diesel requirements eventually will prevent about 20,000 premature deaths a year. Having cleaner fuel available will also enable us to tackle the problem of existing diesel engines.


SENATE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE JOINT HEARING
NOVEMBER 9, 2005

[Senator Richard] BURR [R-NC]: …

Let me move, if I could, to several of you have mentioned that the new ultra-low sulfur diesel regulations that will take effect soon, which set new specifications for on-road highway diesel fuels that would allow new heavy duty trucks to reduce emissions by 90 percent, older trucks to run cleaner and light duty diesel vehicles such as SUVs to get significantly better fuel mileage and for a greater range of diesel retrofit technologies to be used, that this is problematic right now from a standpoint of the date certain that's set.

Can I have each one of you comment on whether you can meet that date certain?

BURR: Let's start with Mr. Hofmeister?

[John] HOFMEISTER [President, Shell Oil Company]: Technically, we can. I think our big concern is in the distribution of the fuel and the fact that as it moves through pipelines, it could pick up other sulfur molecules.

BURR: Mr. Pillari?

[Ross] PILLARI [President and CEO, BP America]: That's a real issue for us as well. We can make it, but moving it is still problematic.

[James] MULVA [Chairman and CEO, ConocoPhillips]: Same issue for us.

[David] O'REILLY[Chairman and CEO, Chevron]: Yes, we can meet it at the refinery.

[Lee] RAYMOND [Chairman and CEO, ExxonMobil]: Same comment, Senator. We can meet it at the refinery.

The National Petroleum Council made some comments on that in the last year with some suggestions to the EPA as to how that be managed.

BURR: Well, my hope is, and I would encourage all of you -- if we can solve the refinery issue, which you've said there's not an issue, hopefully collectively we can solve the distribution issue, which is moving it through a pipeline.

I think it's important that we remember that just like you have suppliers, there are manufacturers out there that have developed engines that are designed with the intent of running on low sulfur diesel. And anything that does not meet a time line that is in sync cheats one side or the other.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your indulgence. I yield back the balance.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Information about smog problems in 2005

Information about smog problems in 2005


STATES WITH SMOG PROBLEMS IN 2005

Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Wisconsin
West Virginia

**
SOME FACTOIDS:


Most smog problems (“exceedences” in the jargon of the government) at one monitor in 2005: 68 at a monitoring station in San Bernardino, CA.

Total number of days with smog problems somewhere: 159 days.

The earliest smog problem was March 20 at Harris County, Texas. The most recent problems were in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana on October 19.

The highest one-hour reading took place in San Bernardino.

Here are total recorded 8-hour ozone “exceedences” nationwide since 1997

Year Total ozone “exceedences”

1997 5,310
1998 8,545
1999 8,615
2000 4,639
2001 5,210
2002 9,085
2003 4,585
2004 1,934
2005* 3,423

*Unofficial

Official records from prior years available at http://www.epa.gov/air/data/geosel.html

Monday, November 07, 2005

NY TIMES: TIME TO MOVE NOW ON GLOBAL WARMING

New York Times Editorial
Climate Signals

Published: November 7, 2005

President Bush has long argued that a nationwide program of mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other global warming gases would saddle the country with crippling electricity costs. He may be surprised to learn that his own Environmental Protection Agency no longer believes that to be the case.

In the course of a study comparing costs and benefits of various clean air bills rattling around Capitol Hill (including Mr. Bush's Clear Skies program), the E.P.A. found that under a measure sponsored by Senator Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat, the cost to electric utilities of controlling carbon dioxide would be only $1 per ton, imposing little burden on consumers and business.

To be sure, Mr. Carper's is the least aggressive and least expensive of the bills requiring mandatory controls. It applies only to power plants, which account for about one-third of carbon dioxide emissions, and would not regulate emissions from cars and others sources.

Still, that measly $1-per-ton figure should embarrass the Bush people who've been warning that controls will bring economic ruin (Clear Skies regulates other pollutants but not carbon dioxide), while providing encouragement to those in Congress who believe that action on warming is long overdue.

Not that there's any shortage of incentives. A recent series in The Times provided fresh evidence that there is already so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Arctic, where the sea ice has been steadily disappearing, may have passed "the point of no return." But the series also said there's still time to avert catastrophic consequences, like the melting of the Greenland ice cap.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's staunch and patient friend, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, has once again - this time in The Observer - appealed to the president to join in a global effort to limit greenhouse gases. Without American participation, Mr. Blair suggests, there's little hope of securing the cooperation of the Chinese, who are building coal-fired power plants at a rapid clip and whose future emissions could overwhelm Western efforts to get a grip on the problem.

Add in the fact that 2005 is almost certain to be the hottest year on record (continuing a 25-year trend of rising global temperatures); add also what Mr. Blair calls "vicious climate disasters," including stronger hurricanes, and the stage would seem to be set for serious debate.
Last summer, the Senate approved a nonbinding resolution that put it on record for the first time as favoring a program of mandatory controls on global warming gases. New Mexico's Pete Domenici - a recent convert to the global warming cause and a Republican leader on energy issues - vowed to follow up by seeking consensus legislation.

Mr. Domenici should make this an early order of business in the new year, not least because he alone may have the credibility to shake Mr. Bush's indifference.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The return of refinery legislation?

Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) says he may try to pass new refinery legislation -- a counterpart the the controversial bill which recenly passed the House. For more, see story at http://cleanairarticles.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A debate on clean air with power industry lobbyist

Available online at http://www.eande.tv/main/

Here is a transcript:

Air Pollution: Clean Air Watch's O'Donnell and industry lobbyist Segal parse 'Clear Skies' debate


Darren Samuelsohn: Welcome to OnPoint. I'm Darren Samuelsohn. Joining us today in the E&ETV studios in Washington to talk about air quality issues is Frank O'Donnell, head of the Clean Air Watch, and Scott Segal, an industry attorney from Bracewell and Giuliani. Gentleman thanks so much for coming on the show again.

Scott Segal: Good to be here.

Frank O'Donnell: Thank you.

Darren Samuelsohn: It's been awhile since you were last on the show. Last time was in March and a lot's happened on the Clean Air Act front. Scott, give us your take. What's been the most important thing that the EPA has done on air quality issues since March?

Scott Segal: Well at long last the Environmental Protection Agency has finally clarified some of the really pressing issues about the definition of what constitutes an increase to trigger the New Source Review program. And they've done so in a proposed rule, that's actually quite exciting, that takes into account the actual realities of what's been going on in the appellate courts. And gives direction that will make for a clear New Source Review program, allow people to make maintenance projects that will go forward, allow people to increase the efficiency at their power plants and actually reduce emissions and increase workplace safety. All in all, it's been a wonderful development just a few weeks ago. We're very excited about it. They've also announced a change in priorities as far as their enforcement is concerned with putting more and greater priorities on getting the cap-and-trade programs up and running that will ensure 70 percent reduction in the emissions across the board. As opposed to the slower case by case analysis that one finds in the litigation heavy approaches. So these are two important developments.

Darren Samuelsohn: Frank, your take on what Scott said. And do you think that that's the most important thing that's happened?

Frank O'Donnell: Well, I would say it's the most important bad thing that's happened. Where essentially they've said we're not going to enforce the law. Now I think the courts may have something to say about whether they enforce the law or not. And I hope they do say that. Sometimes people bash the courts, but really we need some public protection attorneys out there to make the government straighten up when the government abuses the law, which they're doing in this case clearly. In terms of the most important thing they've done, probably is setting the so-called Clean Air Interstate Rule, which is a step in the right direction. It's not the be-all and end-all. We don't think it went far enough. In fact we know that they doctored the final rule to parcel out more credits to some of the coal burning states. So in effect that rule is a little fuzzy, but we do think it's a step in the right direction. And in fact they pretty much admitted, this past weekend in its analysis given to Congress, that that Clean Air Interstate Rule is as good as the legislative initiative they put forward. So essentially they've taken away the rational for amending the law.

Darren Samuelsohn: Let's look ahead six months. If I gave you guys crystal balls, where you think we go in terms of air pollution issue six months from now Scott?

Scott Segal: Well the administration has certainly given a jumpstart the initiative with respect to the Clear Skies policy. That's what Frank was just talking about. That is the legislative component or legislative counterpart to the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Mercury Rule. One of the sticking points for moving forward with Clear Skies has been whether or not there's insufficient data advanced to satisfy the tastes of certain senators from Delaware and elsewhere. It does now seem that they've gotten everything they could have possibly wanted and a toy pony as well. So there shouldn't be any more data driven reasons to not move forward on legislation. One thing Frank had said is why do the legislation if you've already done the rules? I think first there's a sense of permanency that comes with actually doing it in legislation. Second, Frank was quick to point out about those public interest lawyers who do tend to gum up rules, better if you get it ensconced in legislation. And third, to the extent that the Clean Air Interstate Rule makes sense for the eastern half of the United States, wouldn't it be a more robust trading program if it applied to the entire United States? But you can only do that in legislation.

Darren Samuelsohn: Frank, do you want to respond to that?

Frank O'Donnell: Sure, a couple of things. The analysis last week was really quite fascinating because in effect it was like exhuming a corpse to do a DNA test. And they did the DNA test and they said yup, the administration plan is still dead. It still smells bad. Let's put it back in the box. And that's what's happened. It is not going to be revived. It is not going to rise from the dead at this point. And in fact a couple of things came out of that that are quite fascinating politically. One, it verified what we have said all along. We've been saying for four years that even moderate implementation of the current law is as good as this legislative initiative from a clean air standpoint. Maybe not from a corporate polluter protection standpoint, but from a clean air standpoint it is as good. And in fact they doctored that analysis to not even factor in some of the rollbacks and things and tools in current law that they would be taking away by that legislative initiative. And so in fact they have literally verified that we've been right all along. That current law is better. Secondly, that analysis, politically, has put Senator Carper fully in the catbird seat. I mean he sat there and, I've heard from some insiders who are in the room, he looked at the analyses when one of the other senators from Ohio was going, well, this shows it's going to be better than current law. And he said well look George, there are two lines here and they're the same. One is this plan and one is current law. So how can you say its better? Now my plan, the line is better. What do you say to that?

And there was real silence at that point in the room from what I understand.

Scott Segal: Frank O'Donnell: Let me play the role of George Voinovich and compare the Clear Skies policy to quote unquote, full enforcement of existing law. First of all, at the risk of sounding like a broken down academic, we have to deconstruct that phrase, full enforcement of existing law. What that means is automatic capitulation to the position the government takes in case by case litigation all across the board. Right now that litigation proceeds at a snail's pace. And worse yet the government is losing that litigation. So the question of what constitutes full enforcement is very much in doubt. At this point the sure thing, the one in hand if you will, is to do the Clear Skies policy, which mandates a 70 percent reduction coast to coast and creates a robust trading regime. That's far better.

Darren Samuelsohn: I had a feeling you guys were going to have some opinions about these first two questions to start off. Scott, Clear Skies and CAIR though essentially do arguably the same things. And that's what the analysis showed. There wasn't much of a difference between Clear Skies and CAIR in terms of cost, in terms of benefits. So what need does Congress really have to try and enact a law that's not going to do much more than what's already on the books?

Scott Segal: Yeah, it's a good question. The problem is this, there will be litigation concerning the Clean Air Interstate Rule. There already is litigation that's coming from ...

Darren Samuelsohn: That's coming from Florida utilities and some Texas utilities.

Scott Segal: That's right. There's litigation on all sides. And people have joined in interventions. So it's going to be your typical administrative law throw down that we always have in a comprehensive rule. By contrast, and the best example here is the acid rain program, which was constructed not by regulation, but was constructed by legislation. To make truly the Clean Air Interstate Rule the inheritor of the experience for acid rain you have to do it through legislation. Two reasons, first, geographical. You want to get both sides of the continent, not just the East Coast of the United States or the eastern half of the United States. The second point is you want to create certainty both for the public interest community and for the regulating community. You get certainty through legislation. And oftentimes you just get another lawsuit through regulation.

Darren Samuelsohn: Frank I know you're chomping at the bit to get in on this.

Frank O'Donnell: Yeah, and in fact I didn't mean to bash Senator Voinovich. I actually would like to praise him. I always like to throw a curveball to you all in these sessions. And he deserves a lot of praise for taking the initiative on the diesel issue, trying to promote federal funding for that. He's not alone. Senator Clinton is involved in it, Senator Carper also. But without somebody in the majority taking the lead it would go nowhere. So I think he deserves a lot of credit for that and I hope he keeps it up. But I think to go back to the issue with the committee, we really need to step back and address some of these things. Now the health and environmental community has been very consistent from the beginning on a couple of things. One, the Clean Air Act is a good law. Not perfect, not perfect by a long shot, but it's a good law. We shouldn't go changing it unless we change it for the better. Secondly, everybody has agreed, in the health and environmental world, that the best plan put forward so far is the tri-partisan plan that Senator Jeffords put forward, also on the other side by Congressmen Waxman and Boehlert, a bipartisan plan in the House. And it's got the most cosponsors of any plan. And the analysis last week showed why we're for that. One, it would make the biggest reductions in the dirtiest pollutants. And it would also do something about global warming pollution, which we're not seeing. Now the science, since we've last been here and since these bills have all been introduced, actually underscores the importance of addressing those issues. We all now know that fine particle pollution is more deadly than we thought before. Thousands of people literally are dropping dead at current standards. So we need to make that aggressively better, which Senator Jeffords' bill would do. And global warming pollution is worse than it was. We saw this big story in the New York Times last week which basically said you need water skis to go through the Artic.

Scott Segal: Well, what's interesting about Frank's discussion of the different alternatives, comparing the Jeffords' bill, the Carper bill and the Clear Skies initiative, is what we agree on, not what we disagree on. What we agree on is that there needs to be an aggressive program put in place with an objective of reducing your emissions. It needs to work as quickly as possible. The question is what is the best way to achieve the objectives we collectively agree on? And what I would suggest is that the Jeffords' legislation imposes some unacceptable costs that make it not the best approach to achieve our shared objective. For example, right now natural gas is selling at three times its historic average. And we're entering into a winter season where we're going to have problems not only with natural gas, but of course with dreaded home heating oil as well. And now is exactly the wrong time to put in place a plan, which by virtue of its speed and its ultimate numbers would drive massive fuel switching to natural gas. That's not in the best interest of those living on fixed incomes, the elderly, those living in structural property. I mean those are the unaddressed groups that, quite frankly and with all respect to Frank, the environmental community does not like to address. By contrast the power sector has to address those groups. They're our customers every bit as much as any other demographic group. So we have to address them. The environmentalists don't. And as a result a lot of people are left out in the cold if you take the policies that Frank and some of the folks on the Hill would ...

Frank O'Donnell: Now technically, I don't think that's accurate. I haven't read it in a while, but I do believe that the Jeffords' legislation, through its credit trading system, would use some of the monies paid by the power industry to help subsidize some of the people who are actually suffering and cold and so forth. So I do think there is actually an idea in mind to try to deal with that kind of thing.

Scott Segal: And the power industry certainty supports additional funding for [Low Income Heating Emergency Assistance Program] LIHEAP, for example, which is a program designed to support those living in poverty as well. But I'm not sure that's enough if we have fuel switching to natural gas.

Frank O'Donnell: And maybe the political center is somewhere between Senator Jeffords' bill and Senator Carper's bill.

Scott Segal: Or between you and me?

Darren Samuelsohn: Exactly, that's exactly same thing. Because that's where I've been trying to go with this interview for the last 10 minutes. Let me interject the Carper bill into this debate. Because here this bill is now only, I think it's like $30 billion more, help me out here with the costs. I don't think it's that much more. The Carper bill is what the EPA analysis showed, then the Clear Skies or CAIR. So the benefits are I believe higher and the costs are just a little bit higher for putting the Carper bill into place. And you get the CO2 reductions, you start the CO2 reductions.

Scott Segal: The problem is, with all of the EPA analysis, is that it makes certain static assumptions, but the world around us is not static. We've seen massive increases in energy prices both on the transportation sector and with respect to stationary sources using natural gas for example, in the last couple of months. So even what appeared to be small differences in costs based on static assumptions related to energy can actually be quite significant increases in costs. One other thing, the primary feature of the Carper bill, that Senator Carper likes to tout, is that it too includes a carbon provision. And while he says it's not a showstopper to exclude carbon perhaps maybe. Although he has from time to time switched his argument about what would be sufficient to satisfy him. But assuming for a moment there has to be some form of carbon in it, I think it is well worth remembering that there is no consensus yet on the appropriate way to control carbon through domestic policy. So as a result, if that becomes the marker by which we judge air pollution policy, it's like saying we don't want to pass air pollution policy. Which I understand maybe a good result for some, but I don't think it's a good result for the U.S.

Darren Samuelsohn: Frank, the Carper bill?

Frank O'Donnell: Sure, well I'm a little bit biased. I'm going to have to admit I've appeared with him publicly to bash the Bush administration. The picture is on our Clean Air Watch Web site. So I'm not going to deny that, but I think people in the environmental community think that he is well intentioned, is looking to go in the right direction. We have had some concerns with some elements of his bill, don't think it's perfect. But one thing I will say about him I think he is genuinely concerned about the global warming problem. He reads the papers like we all do. I mean now the evidence is coming up that, as I said before, global warming is even worse than we thought before. Last week we had a number of scientists at the American Meteorological Society, very credible climate scientists, saying you know, global warming, these big deadly hurricanes, looks like there is a link. And maybe not every weathercaster in the country is saying it yet, but I think they will be pretty soon now that the idea is out there scientifically, in a credible scientific way. And when he has appeared publicly he has said, really his big focus has been, look, global warming is a problem. I'm a little late to this issue maybe, but I genuinely believe we need to do something about it now. And I don't think there's going to be any legislation in that committee without addressing global warming. That's why I say he's in the catbird seat.

Darren Samuelsohn: Scott, I know you want to pounce on the hurricane issue, but we're almost out of time. Just really quick give me your assessment. Are we going to see a Clear Skies bill before President Bush leaves office? Are we going to see any sort of Clean Air Act amendments before President Bush leaves office? Yes or no?

Scott Segal: Yes, yes. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're going to push hard for it. And the case has been made for it. And the case is getting better everyday.

Darren Samuelsohn: After midterm elections or before?

Scott Segal: Probably after, there's not much time.

Darren Samuelsohn: OK. Frank?

Frank O'Donnell: The corpse is not going to rise from the dead. It is absolutely not going to happen even though we've recently had Halloween. That vampire has had a stake through its heart. You may see something better, but it's going to have to be addressing carbon. Senator Voinovich is going to have to actually come Senator Carper's way to see any kind of action at all. And there's still that big mess on the other side called the House of Representatives and the guy that the Dallas Morning News calls Smokey Joe Barton. And the senators are very concerned about dealing with him. Last week they wouldn't even deal with the so-called Gas Price Act because they knew they might have to go into a conference. And you saw a situation where the Republican members of that panel, most of them, looked like they were afflicted by a different kind of gas problem. I don't think they're going to want to vote on something unless it actually is something that's popular.

Scott Segal: Darren, you know it must be near Halloween because Frank is once again, just trying to scare people. I mean this whole notion about hurricanes. I don't know how many more experts, how broad the consensus has to be. The National Hurricane Center, which is not a partisan organization, is the recognized expert on hurricanes, has said that the current hurricane cycle is part of a natural cycle. It has nothing to do with global climate change. But that said, the best way to protect the American people, the best way to increase the efficiency of energy and at the same time to make sure that emissions decline is to make sure that there is regulatory certainty. That means legislation that addresses the principles of the Clear Skies Initiative. It's the best approach on the environment.

Darren Samuelsohn: All right gentlemen. We're going to have to cut it off here. We'll see you for a fourth round in probably another six months or so.

Scott Segal: Great.

Frank O'Donnell: Great, thanks a lot.

Darren Samuelsohn: Until next time, this is Darren Samuelsohn for another edition of OnPoint. Thanks for watching