Monday, June 07, 2010

Dirty dealings on Capitol Hill: Senator Lugar floats amnesty for polluters plan

No sooner had the US EPA set new national health standards for sulfur dioxide – standards that would prevent asthma attacks, emergency room visits and premature deaths – than those protections seem to be coming under attack on Capitol Hill.

The electric power industry was quick to point out that the new EPA standards would “certainly have an impact on electric utilities in terms of the need for us to continue to install new pollution-control devices on our power plants."

But now comes word that a Republican Senator with some very dirty corporate constituents is riding to industry’s rescue.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana is reported ready to introduce climate legislation that seeks to promote an “alternative” to the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach.

Part of Lugar’s plan, according to a draft on his website, would be to exempt power companies from Clean Air Act requirements to use pollution controls in return for a “voluntary” retirement program. See below from his web site.

This is a dirty scam and deserves to be exposed as such. It was obviously cooked up by some of the big power companies – both coal-heavy Duke and American Electric Power operate in Indiana. These companies have been evading pollution cleanup for many years. This seems to be their latest gambit.

Lugar in effect is offering an amnesty for polluters plan. This would be a gift to some of the biggest corporate polluters in America.

Remember, this isn’t just about sulfur dioxide. This could also block EPA efforts to reduce deadly fine-particle soot and smog-forming nitrogen oxides, as well as upcoming plans to sharply reduce toxic mercury and other pollutants. We recently detailed how the coal power industry’s has delayed toxic cleanup for two full decades!

We expect to hear more about this soon from the public health community, led by the American Lung Association, which has openly criticized sections of the Kerry Lieberman climate legislation that could open the door to similar delays and exemptions.


From Senator Lugar’s web site:

Retirement of most costly polluting coal plants

1. Establishes a voluntary retirement program for the nation’s most-polluting coal plants, comprising

approximately 16% (49GW) of coal generation capacity. In return for relief from regulations that

would require them to make costly investments in scrubbers over the next few years, participating

plants would be able to continue operation until 2020. Sec 302.

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