Bush Clear Sky Plan Lowers Clean Air Standards

National Academy of Sciences initial assessment of Clear Skies plan would reduce air pollution less than current Clen Air Act.

Published: 14-Jan-2005

Bush administration's bill to curb air pollution from power plants would reduce air pollution less than the current Clean Air Act rules, according to a preliminary report by the National Academy of Sciences released yesterday.

The 18-member panel's initial assessment of proposals to regulate aging coal-fired power plants represents the latest salvo in the ongoing battle over how best to clean up the nation's air. The president's "Clear Skies" bill would set up a cap-and-trade program that aims to cut sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury pollution from utilities by 70 percent after 2018; the Senate will conduct hearings on the plan in two weeks.

The administration has also retooled federal "New Source Review" (NSR) rules, which require plants to install costly emissions controls if they increase pollution when modifying the facilities. The administration's revised rules, which have been blocked by a federal judge since late 2003, would require new controls only when the modifications equal 20 percent of a plant's replacement cost.

The academy report, commissioned by Congress in 2003 after Democrats tried to stall the administration's revision of NSR regulations, said it is difficult to gauge the effects of that plan because data are scarce.

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