Statement of Senator Max Baucus
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Hearing on S. 556
November 1, 2001
Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing so that we can all continue to explore and debate this very important and complicated issue.†
There has been, and continues to be, a great deal of interest in multi‑pollutant legislation, on both sides of the aisle and within the Administration.† I believe that all have the same goal as they consider the best way to craft multi‑pollutant legislation Ė to achieve maximum environmental benefits in the most efficient and effective manner possible, at the least cost to our economy.†
There are many reasons for this broad interest in taking another look at how the federal government regulates power plant emissions.† Air pollution from the nationís power plants continues to be a significant public health and environmental problem, despite the great strides made in reducing emissions of SO2, NOx, and fine particulate matter prompted by the passage of the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.†† Deregulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry in many areas of the country have complicated the cost equation associated with updating pollution control technologies.† Industry has come to Congress, asking for greater regulatory certainty to help them plan for long‑term capital investments in the electric utility sector.† Concerns about the effects of global warming have for years prompted many to call for restrictions on CO2 emissions.
I think the Chairmanís bill, S. 556, is a good starting point in this debate.† I think Senator Jeffords does an admirable job of attempting to balance all of the competing interests and policies associated with a broad multi‑pollutant strategy.† However, I think we all realize that it will take a lot of time, discussion and debate to come to reach a final compromise that will work for the whole nation, and that will ultimately end up on the Presidentís desk.† I am committed to working with my colleagues on this Committee in this effort.
As I have stated many times in the past, I accept the science of global warming and believe that it poses a serious threat that our generation must begin to address.† However,† Montana relies on coal for nearly 70% of its electricity generation, and the nation as a whole relies on coal for more than 50% of its electricity generation.† Montana is also a coal‑producing state, with some of the largest coal reserves in the nation. This is an important sector of my stateís economy.† Again, I think we can all agree that we need to move in a direction that cleans up power plant emissions, including emissions of carbon dioxide.† As usual, however, the devil is in the details.
I also want to make sure that the interests of Western states are adequately addressed in any legislation that comes out of this Committee.† Western coal plants already tend to be cleaner and newer than plants in the mid‑west and east.† They should not be unfairly penalized in relation to older, dirtier plants.†
I think this Committee has a tremendous opportunity here to do some real and positive good for the environment, for public health, without putting the breaks on the nationís economy, or shutting down its coal industry.† I commend the Chairman for challenging all of us to accomplish that task.