Presidential Plan, Jeffords Bill, Conflict on Air Pollution Control

Date:   February 12, 2003
Contact:   Kate Himot, NPCA, 202-454-3311

Presidential Plan, Jeffords Bill, Conflict on Air Pollution Control

Washington, D.C. - The Bush administration today announced its voluntary plan to address global warming while Senator James Jeffords introduced in the Senate his Clean Power Act, which sets timely requirements for significantly reducing the pollution primarily responsible for global climate change.
"The president's plan is based on voluntary reductions from industry, which past experience has shown means that pollution will continue to increase," said Thomas Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association. "The country needs real leadership on this issue, which has far-reaching implications for human and environmental health and for our economy. The emission reductions required by Senator Jeffords' Clean Power Act are essential to addressing global warming and to restoring clean air in national parks beleaguered by smokestack industries."
Congress passed legislation 25 years ago requiring that national parks have the cleanest air in the country. Instead, many of these parks suffer some of America's dirtiest air. Old coal- and oil-burning power plants, which produce up to 12 times more pollution than do newer facilities, surround America's most-polluted national parks, including Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Mammoth Cave. The same pollution that harms parks also threatens human health.
"Sooty haze, unhealthy levels of ozone, acid rain, and global warming threaten national parks from Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas to Sequoia in California," Kiernan said. "Responsible industries strive to be as clean as possible, not as dirty as they can get away with. Unfortunately, while some industries have accepted the clean-up challenge, too many lag behind."
The Bush administration's voluntary global warming agreements with industry supplement a pollution control plan that the president outlined last year, the Clear Skies Initiative. An EPA analysis of that plan concluded that current Clean Air Act regulations, if properly enforced, would deliver greater pollution reductions sooner than those proposed in the administration's plan.
"Global warming is expected to transform Glacier National Park into Puddles National Park within a few decades," Kiernan said. "Nine national parks repeatedly fail to meet EPA health-based limits for ozone pollution. Streams in Shenandoah National Park continue to grow more acidic and more dangerous to native trout. Our national parks deserve the best protection possible, but the Bush administration is going in the wrong direction, promoting plans supported by industry special interests that will not protect public interests, including national parks."
The administration last December weakened regulations affecting 17,000 industrial sources, of which power plants account for only 1,100. This action will increase air pollution in national parks and communities across the country. The administration's legislative plan for controlling air pollution, not yet formally introduced in Congress, continues in the same vein, further weakening key provisions of the Clean Air Act, eliminating safeguards to protect national parks and local air quality, and failing to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
"The pollution that affects the parks is also attacking our health," Kiernan said. "EPA studies have shown that voluntary pollution reductions do not work sufficiently to address the problem. The administration's plan will not curb pollution, it simply asks industry to increase its pollution more efficiently."


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