Washington, D.C.-Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change and Nuclear Safety, introduced today, by request, President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative to reduce harmful air pollutants.
In the House, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the Energy and Air Quality subcommittee, and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, also introduced Clear Skies by request.
Sen. Inhofe released the following statement:
“I am pleased that Sen. Voinovich and I and our counterparts in the House have the opportunity to work with the President on one of his top legislative priorities. Clear Skies demonstrates the President's serious commitment to providing strong environmental protections for the American people. It is the most aggressive presidential initiative in history to reduce power plant emissions.
“Clear Skies will build upon the remarkable environmental progress we've made over the last 30 years. Since passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970 the nation's gross domestic product has increased 160 percent, energy consumption has increased 45 percent, and population has increased 38 percent. At the same time we've reduced emissions by 29 percent.
“President Bush understands that achieving positive environmental results and promoting economic growth are not incompatible goals. Moving beyond the confusing, command-and-control mandates of the past, Clear Skies cap-and-trade system harnesses the power of technology and innovation to bring about significant reductions in harmful pollutants.
“I look forward to working with the Administration on crafting a sound bill. To that end, I expect to have helpful information on certain aspects of the legislation. One issue that concerns me is the reallocation of mercury credits, and I am still waiting for a justification from the Administration. Also I'm concerned whether the bill's overall mercury emissions cap is at a co-benefit level.
Clear Skies would reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury by about 70 percent by 2018. A fact sheet on Clear Skies is attached. The text of the bill will be posted today on EPA's website (http://www.epa.gov ).
Clear Skies Act of 2003 Fact Sheet Cleaner Air, Better Health, Brighter Future
“I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants . . . I urge you to pass [this measure], for the good of both our environment and our economy.” George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 28, 2003
Passing Clear Skies legislation this year would provide immediate health benefits – emissions trading under Clear Skies provides incentives for power plants to reduce emissions early.
Clear Skies is a mandatory program that would dramatically reduce and cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and mercury from electric power generation.
Clear Skies would provide health benefits faster, more certainly and at less cost to America’s consumers than would the current Clean Air Act.
Clear Skies would deliver unprecedented emissions reductions nationwide from the power sector without significantly affecting electricity prices for American consumers. Clear Skies would deliver certainty and efficiency, achieving environmental protection while supporting economic growth.
The mandatory, market-based cap and trade program for power generators builds upon the Clean Air Act to facilitate achievement of critical health and environmental goals.
Components of the Clear Skies Act of 2003
The Clear Skies Act would:
• Establish federally enforceable emissions limits (or “caps”) for all three pollutants.
– Clear Skies’ NOx and SO2 requirements affect all fossil fuel-fired electric generators greater than 25 megawatts (MW) that sell electricity. Mercury requirements affect only the subset of these units that are coal-fired.
• Use a dynamic regulatory approach – emission caps and trading – that provides power plants with flexibility to reduce emissions in the most efficient and least costly way.
• Maintain the authority of state and local government to set source-specific emissions limits for sources within their borders to ensure that ambient air quality standards are met.
Actual Emissions in 2000
Clear Skies Emissions Caps Total Reduction at Full Implementation
First Phase of Reductions
Second Phase of Reductions
11.2 million tons
4.5 million tons
3 million tons
5.1 million tons
2.1 million tons
1.7 million tons
* Because sources can reduce emissions early, earn allowances for those actions, and use those allowances later, actual emission levels will be higher than the cap in the first years of these phases.
** The NOx cap is divided between two zones with separate trading programs under each zone. Zone 2 includes states participating in the WRAP process as well as Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and some of Western Texas. Zone 1 includes the remaining 31 states in the continental U.S. and the remaining portion of Texas.
Clear Skies Provides Dramatic Benefits for Public Health
• Clear Skies would begin delivering benefits to human health and the environment beginning with its passage. Human health benefits we can quantify grow to approximately $93 billion per year by 2020, substantially outweighing the annual costs of $6.5 billion (based on 2002 estimates).
• EPA projected that, by 2020, the public health benefits from Clear Skies would include 12,000 avoided premature deaths. An alternative methodology for calculating health-related benefits projects over 7,000 premature deaths prevented and $11 billion in health benefits - still far greater than the costs.
• Americans would also experience approximately 11,900 fewer visits to the hospital and emergency room, 370,000 fewer days with asthma attacks, and 2 million fewer work loss days each year under Clear Skies by 2020.
• Under Clear Skies, more than 20 million additional people would be breathing air that meets the national ozone and fine particle standards in 2020.
– In the remaining counties, Clear Skies would achieve additional reductions in fine particles that would further protect human health.
Clear Skies Makes Great Strides to Help the Environment
• The benefit of improvements in visibility in our national parks and wilderness areas would total $3 billion per year by 2020.
• Clear Skies would also:
– Reduce nitrogen loads to the Chesapeake Bay and other waters along the East and Gulf Coasts;
– Help lakes, streams, & forests recover from acid rain damage; and
– Reduce mercury in the environment.
Clear Skies Simplifies Cumbersome Requirements and Reduces Burdens on States
• Clear Skies would expand and strengthen a proven, mandatory market-based approach and reduce reliance on complex, less efficient requirements.
• Clear Skies would help state and local governments attain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particles (PM2.5) and ozone:
– By 2010, an estimated 34 additional counties would meet the fine particle standard, and an estimated 10 additional counties would meet the 8-hour ozone standard.
– By 2020, an estimated 54 additional counties would meet the fine particle standard, and an estimated 8 additional counties would meet the 8-hour ozone standard.
Clear Skies Maintains Energy Diversity and Security
• Clear Skies would enable continued reliance on abundant domestic sources of fuel.
• Clear Skies would also benefit energy consumers by allowing the trend of lower electricity prices to continue.