Fifteen years ago, I worked with legends like John Chafee, Pat Moynihan and George Mitchell in crafting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. We were able to band together, regardless of party label, to write a law that has resulted in great health, environmental and economic benefits for the nation. Today, in great contrast, we debate the merits of the Bush Administration’s so-called “Clear Skies Act.” I am not exaggerating when I state that the Administration proposal eviscerates the current law and represents the biggest rollback and weakening of the Clean Air Act in history. I believe most laws can be improved, and I am willing to negotiate and to compromise to make improvements in the existing Clean Air Act to increase guaranteed public health and environmental benefits. Unfortunately, instead of attempting to reach consensus on clean air issues, this Bush Administration has dismissed without merit and ignored peer-reviewed research by the world’s leading scientific bodies and obstructed, stymied and declined to discuss bipartisan solutions on this issue. The Clean Air Act is working, despite the continued efforts of the Bush Administration to undermine it and to protect industry at the expense of the public health. Many of the doubters and the polluters said it would bankrupt our economy. Instead, GDP grew rapidly throughout the 1990's, while pollution was reduced by approximately 70 million tons and electricity prices increased by less than one penny per kilowatt-hour. The annual net benefits that we can put a price tag on from this landmark legislation are well over $100 billion. There are plenty more benefits that are harder to quantify - one extra mile of clear vision in a National Park, one less asthma attack for a vulnerable child and many, many more. I understand that power plant owners want a new law to escape vigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act, particularly New Source Review. The power plant companies want to further delay the legal deadlines that would achieve the health-based, more protective standards for ozone and fine particulate matter, deadlines which they fought in court for five years. Utilities want to be shielded from reducing toxic air pollutants, like mercury and other heavy metals, and from achieving modern emission standards. And most fossil fuel plants want to put off dealing with global warming forever. But now is not the time to fulfill the polluters’ wish list. The Bush Administration air pollution plan would radically slow and reverse the great progress that we have made in the last 15 years. The Bush plan rewrites major portions of the Clean Air Act to delay attainment of the health-based smog and soot standards - leaving millions of Americans to breathe dirty air longer. The bill never achieves the emissions reductions claimed in the Administration’s advertising. It is rife with loopholes for polluters and litigation, letting major sources of toxic air pollutants to go unregulated for decades. The President’s bill takes the efficient market-based cap-and-trade system set up in 1990 to reduce acid rain pollution and dismantles it. The current Clean Air Act's drive for continual improvement of pollution control technology from new and modified sources would be stifled. Worse, the Administration proposal actually increases greenhouse gas emissions substantially. I have introduced bi-partisan legislation with 18 cosponsors, including Senator Leahy, which achieves greater pollution reduction, faster and with greater benefits for society. Our legislation, The Clean Power Act, would modernize electric power plants and reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. These reductions are needed to bring healthier air to 160 million Americans and to protect future generations from the threat of global warming. Every day, on average, power plant pollution will contribute to or cause 68 Americans to die prematurely, 100 to have heart attacks, and thousands of adults and children to have asthma attacks so severe they will go the hospital. And 6.6 million tons of carbon dioxide will add to the already serious risk of dangerous interference with the earth’s climate system. Under the Bush Administration plan, the public, who really own the rights to the air, would see higher medical and insurance costs due to pollution that lingers longer than the law now allows. I was proud to work with the first President Bush on the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. He called our work, "a new chapter in our environmental history, and a new era for clean air." That was an example of what Democrats, Republicans and Independents working together could achieve to improve our environmental future. Now this President Bush insists on moving us backward, undoing his father’s legacy and weakening our nation’s clean air laws. They may call their plan "Clear Skies," but to really achieve cleaner and healthier air we need leadership, not another slogan.