Fifteen years ago I sat at this dais and voted aye for the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. As this Committee was moving to approve these amendments, Senator George Mitchell, then a member of this committee said, "I don't think you could have a better and less partisan committee with which to deal on this issue." He continued, "The protection of the American environment and the health of the American people, at least in the last decade I've been on this committee, has been almost entirely non-partisan." By a vote of 15 to1 this committee approved the strongest improvements to the Clean Air Act in its history. As those of you who served on this committee recall, we all stuck together on the Senate floor to defeat amendments that would have strengthened or weakened the bill. This type of compromise took courage. The votes on the Senate floor in 1990 were some of the toughest I have taken in my career. Many of these votes did not serve me well back home. The headlines across Vermont read, "Jeffords Votes to Undermine the Clean Air Act". But we stuck together and the result has been proven. I was willing to compromise, and I stand ready today, but the bill before us is no compromise, it's a giant step backward. The Clean Air Act is working. We prevailed in 1990. Now is not the time to reverse our success. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time you have given us over the past weeks to discuss a process for moving forward. Most of the members would agree that we would need more time, more information from EPA and a better understanding of the actual impacts these proposals would have on human health and the environment. My understanding is that EPA is on the verge of issuing two important rules on air quality and mercury. The issuance of these rules should have no impact on our legislative deliberation. We shouldn't feel pressured to make important decisions that irreversibly affect our air quality just because these rules are about to be issued. These rules should be issued on schedule, but even under normal administrative procedure, they will not be in effect right away. The Chairman has predicted that they will be litigated. So we have time to act. We all agree that to protect human health, any bill must not backslide from the current Clean Air Act. Today we must decide whether to unravel the work of 1990 or let the Act continue to work as we fashioned. My vote is with the Clean Air Act. Today I will vote no on S. 131. S. 131, the "Clear Skies" bill, throws us back to the pre-1990 days. This legislation denies plain scientific evidence of human health damage from toxic air pollution and of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. The dates and rates in S. 131 are weak and insufficient. This bill allows giant corporate utilities to avoid compliance and stops the enforcement of our existing clean air laws. The big utilities are essentially given ten extra years to pollute. In addition, the measure exempts thousands of sources from the requirements to control hazardous air pollutants that cause cancer and birth defects. My vote against S. 131 is a vote to protect human health. It is a vote to preserve our environment. It is a vote for the people who want to breathe healthy air. And my vote against this legislation is a vote against undermining the Clean Air Act. My hope is that this committee defeats the President's Clear Skies bill today. In defeating this bill we send a signal that partisanship is dead. That it is time to work together toward a bipartisan compromise. That we must strive to build upon the success of the Clean Air Act, not gut it. As we all know, it is easier to defeat legislation than it is to create laws. It takes great women and men striving for common purpose and common ground to achieve legislative success. Well, we are all great women and men. I hope beginning today, we will band together and seek a compromise that benefits this great nation.