EPA Clear Skies Legislation and Alternatives
Oct 27, 2005 - - The Clear Skies Act will significantly expand the Clean Air Act's most innovative and successful program to cut power plant pollution of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and, for the first time, mercury by an unprecedented 70 percent in two phases. The legislation would impose a mandatory multi-pollutant cap on emissions from more than 1300 power plants nationwide, reducing pollution by as much as 9 million tons annually. The country will achieve this by spending more than $44 billion in large part to install, operate and maintain pollution abatement technology on both old and new power plants.
The Clear Skies Act's cap and trade approach will give states the most powerful, efficient and proven tool available for meeting new, tough, health-based air quality standards for fine particles and ozone. Most counties will be able to meet the new standards without having to take any new local measures beyond the Clear Skies Act power plant reductions. The market-based trading approach will substantially cut the overall cost of compliance that is passed on to consumers and shareholders. The study incorporated the latest computer models and assumptions to create a side-by-side comparison of President Bush's Clear Skies Act to several alternatives introduced on Capitol Hill. The legislative and regulatory analyses project potential costs and benefits for public health, air quality, and the power sector for the years 2010, 2015, and 2020.
The legislative and regulatory proposals analyzed:
1. Clean Air Planning Act (Carper, S.843 in 108th)
2. Clean Power Act (Jeffords, S.150 in 109th)
3. Clear Skies Act of 2005 (Inhofe, S.131 in 109th)
4. Clear Skies Act of 2003 (Bush Administration proposed bill, S.485 in 108th)
5. Clear Skies Manager's Mark (of S.131)
6. Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), Clean Air Visibility Rule (CAVR)
The analyses and supporting documentation may be found online at: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/mp
CLEAR SKIES BILL DIES IN COMMITTEE
March 2005 -- Legislation to overhaul the Clean Air Act failed on a 9-9 tie vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Clear Skies Act would replace the current industrial air pollution regulatory structure with a system that would cap sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury emissions, and let utilities and other industrial polluters trade emission allowances on a free market. Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island joined Independent James M. Jeffords of Vermont and the committee's Democrats in voting against the bill, in part because it does nothing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, which many scientists consider a major contributor to global warming.
Clear Skies Legislation Introduced in 2005
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety, introduced the Clear Skies Act of 2005 on January 24, 2004 -- the latest version of President Bush’s Clear Skies proposal -- which would reduce pollution from power plants by 70 percent by 2018. The Clear Skies legislative approach has bipartisan support from a broad array of stakeholders. AAEA supports the Clear Skies Act of 2005.
The Clear Skies Act is the most aggressive presidential initiative in history to reduce power plant pollution and provide cleaner air across the country. The bill reduces emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and -- for the first time -- mercury from power plants by 70 percent by 2018 through expanding the successful Acid Rain Trading Program. This program, combined with the historic diesel rules being implemented by the Bush Administration, provide a national clean air strategy that will bring nearly all of the nation’s counties that are not meeting clean air standards into attainment, makes the future for clean coal possible, and keeps energy affordable, reliable and secure.
The Clear Skies Act responsibly harmonizes our energy and environmental policies to protect both the environment and jobs. It reduces emissions by historic levels and helps ensure continued access to the reliable, low cost electricity that is so critical to job creation and our country’s global competitiveness. It will also significantly help states and locations meet the new, more stringent national air quality standards more quickly and cheaply than current law.
The Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 10:00am in SD 406 to discuss the need for multi-emissions legislation including the Clear Skies bill.
AAEA is promoting an Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve to address the racial 'Hot Spots" issue.
AAEA also supported the Clear Skies Initiative in 2003 and 2004
CLEAR SKIES ACT OF 2005
Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe and Clean Air Subcommittee Chairman George Voinovich reintroduced a major multi-emissions bill on January 24, 2005. The Clear Skies Act of 2005 would enact the largest power plant emissions reduction program ever – 70 percent cut in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury.
Continues the Nation’s Progress in Cleaning up the Air
Since 1970, while there have been increases in Gross Domestic Product by 176 percent, vehicle miles traveled by 155 percent, energy consumption by 45 percent, and population by 39 percent – emissions of the six main pollutants have decreased by 51 percent. However, more can and should be done.
The Clear Skies Act expands the nation’s most successful clean air initiative – the Acid Rain Trading Program. Unlike most of our nation’s environmental laws and regulations, this program has had virtually no litigation and has achieved goals of substantial reductions in acid rain at less than the projected cost. Clear Skies builds on this success by creating a new program for mercury and extending SOx and NOx reductions out to 2018 with the aim of modernizing the Clean Air Act for the 21ST century and ending the cycle of litigation and confrontation that has obstructed further progress in reducing pollution.
Achieves the Reduction Levels without Significantly Harming the Economy
EPA recently declared that 474 counties are in non-attainment for the new, stricter National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, and that 225 counties do not meet the newer, stricter standards for particulate matter. These designations place a significant burden on state and local governments as they must now develop plans to reduce emissions and come into attainment by a specified date. Clear Skies – plus diesel regulations already finalized by EPA – will bring most of these counties into attainment without any local controls because it places most of the burden on the electric generating sector. This allows our states and cities to continue to focus on attracting new industry and create jobs.
Allows the Nation to Keep Burning Coal without Increasing Reliance on Natural Gas
Coal is our nation’s most abundant and cheapest energy source. Manufacturers and businesses depend on its low cost to stay competitive in the global marketplace. In contrast to other proposals, Clear Skies would not dramatically reduce coal-based generation or force an over-reliance on natural gas, which would increase demand beyond supply and bring on crippling economic costs for small businesses and consumers – especially the poor and elderly.
Provides Needed Certainty
The Clear Skies Act ends the uncertainty which currently clouds our clean air laws and regulations because its reduction levels and requirements would be set in law and therefore could not be subjected to the legal challenges that have hindered environmental progress for so long. It institutes environmental certainty that these three pollutants—NOx, SOx, and Mercury—will be reduced by a specific amount by a date certain. It also provides regulatory certainty so that companies can plan for the costly investments necessary to reduce pollution by the required levels.