Environmental groups once adamantly opposed to the Bush Administration’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) now fervently support the rule. When the President introduced CAIR, Clear the Air went so far as to say, “The air pollution rule announced today will do more than add insult to injury. It will heap injury upon the injured. Thousands of Americans with asthma won't be able to breathe any easier any time soon. What's even more alarming is that EPA's timid reductions will still allow tens of thousands of Americans to die prematurely every year.” More recently however, environmental groups are saying the exact opposite, as a quote from Environmental Defense website shows, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) simply needs to sign off on a strong, protective Clean Air Interstate Rule (known as CAIR) to clean up smokestack emissions, and thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks could be prevented every year.”  

So why the change of heart? Simple, litigation, litigation, litigation. David Whitman in his article Party Sunny writes “CAIR, however, is significantly more vulnerable to court challenges than Clear Skies would have been (it is easier to bring a challenge to regulations than to enacted law) and will undoubtedly be held up, not unlike the Clinton administration's 1997 air quality standards.” Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Daily senior reporter agrees writing, “Litigation over CAIR is almost certain to be filed from various stakeholder groups, from environmentalists bound to view the final plan as weak and industry groups who may feel it parcels out emissions credits unfairly.” A Washington Post article from today clinches the environmental litigation strategy stating, “Environmental groups are so disenchanted with the trading proposal that they have stopped fighting it -- they want the agency to issue the rule in order to fight it in court.”

FACT: Signing Clear Skies legislation into law provides greater certainty than implementing Clean Air Interstate Rule. Furthermore, Clear Skies proposes to put in place an integrated set of emissions control requirements with coordinated compliance deadlines. It avoids piecemeal implementation of multiple emissions control obligations and is essential if electric power generators are to achieve compliance in the most economically efficient manner possible. Among other things, coordinating the compliance deadlines for all three air pollutants (SO2, NOx and Hg) will promote economic efficiency, including enabling many companies to meet a substantial portion of Hg emission reduction obligations through the co-benefits achieved by installing pollution controls to reduce SO2 and NOx (scrubbers and SCRs).