Bush Air Pollution Plan Delays and Dilutes Current Law, Threatens Public Health

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2003) -- The Bush administration's air pollution proposal, which it has misleadingly dubbed its "Clear Skies Initiative, " is expected to be reintroduced in Congress today. NRDC and 13 other environmental and public health groups jointly released the following backgrounder, which shows how the administration proposal would undermine the Clean Air Act.

The administration plan allows more than twice as much SO2 for nearly a decade longer (2010-2018), compared with faithful enforcement of the current Clean Air Act. After 2018, SO2 emissions will still be one and a half times higher than if current law is enforced.

The administration plan allows more than one and a half times as much NOx for nearly a decade longer (2010-2018), and one third more NOx even after 2018.

The administration plan lets power plants emit more than five times as much mercury for a decade longer (2010-2018), and three times as much after 2018.

For a detailed comparison between current law and the Bush plan, see "The Bush Administration Air Pollution Plan: Hurts Public Health, Helps Big Polluters, Worsens Global Warming," a backgrounder issued by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and 13 other environmental groups.

Below is a statement by David Hawkins, director of NRDC's Climate Center.

"The Bush air pollution plan would cost thousands of lives, intensify global warming and reward polluting industries that have been flouting the law for years. It would make lethal pollution legal, condemning millions of Americans to breathing dangerous air.

"The plan would allow industry to make fewer reductions in toxic pollution over a much longer period of time than current law. That may explain industry's support for this bill, but it offers cold comfort to hundreds of thousands of asthma sufferers and the families of thousands of Americans who die unnecessarily every year from power plant pollution.

"You only have to take a look at how the Bush plan deals with mercury pollution to see just how bankrupt this plan is. Power plants are a major source of U.S. mercury pollution, and, according the National Academy of Sciences, more than 60,000 newborns annually are at risk for neurological development problems due to mercury overexposure in the womb. And the Centers for Disease Control says one in 12 women today have unacceptably high levels of mercury in their blood. Current law could cut mercury pollution at power plants by nearly 90 percent by 2008. The Bush plan would delay significant mercury cuts for a decade, creating a toxic legacy that will last for decades more."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.