WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., Susan Collins, R – Me., and Joseph I. Lieberman, D - Conn., today introduced bipartisan legislation to require power plants to reduce emissions that cause smog, acid rain, respiratory disease and premature death, mercury contamination and global warming. The legislation, “The Clean Power Act,” (S. 150) requires power plants to significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and mercury. These pollutants cause death, disease, ecological degradation, birth defects, and increase the risk of abrupt and unwelcome climate changes. Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said, “This bill, which is sponsored by 19 Senators from 12 states, representing more than 91 million Americans, will require power plants to reduce pollution faster and use 21st Century technology to clean our air. Fossil fuel power plants are the nation’s single largest source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Air pollution in the United States continues to cause at least 25,000 premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks, and several million lost workdays nationwide every year due to asthma and other respiratory ailments. We cannot keep ignoring air pollution from these sources and its effect on human health and the atmosphere.” "Coal-fired power plants that exploit loopholes in the Clean Air Act are the single largest source of air pollution, mercury contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation," said Collins. "A single coal-fired power plant can emit more pollutants than all of the cars, factories, and businesses in Maine combined. I am especially concerned about the continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions. In light of the rapid warming in the Arctic and the significance that this warming portends for the rest of the planet, reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a step that we can no longer afford to put off." “In my home state of Connecticut, people are plagued by the ozone smog that results from nitrogen oxide emissions and by particles formed from sulfur dioxide emissions," Lieberman said. “If we don't fight these problems today, people in our state will continue to suffer unnecessarily from asthma attacks and other problems that are in many cases preventable.” The Clean Power Act, which has 16 additional co-sponsors, uses the largely successful cap-and-trade system in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments for making quick and cost-effective reductions in these pollutants (mercury is excluded due to concerns about creating toxic hot-spots). At the same time, this bill does not abolish or eliminate any of the vital local and regional air quality protection programs in the Clean Air Act. More than 130 million people live in areas with unhealthy air. Ground-level ozone triggers over 6.2 million asthma attacks each summer in the eastern United States alone, and studies show that it causes asthma. Each year, 160,000 people are sent to emergency rooms due to smog-induced respiratory illness. Power plants are a significant contributor to air quality degradation, and cause major reductions in visibility in our national parks and wild places. Fossil fuel power plants account for 40% of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions, which is approximately 10% of the world total. Carbon dioxide is the most important manmade greenhouse gas. Concentrations in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in the last 420,000 years. The national academy of sciences and the nation’s best climate scientists have indicated that these emissions are likely to increase the average temperature of the earth and cause sea-levels to rise significantly. This global warming could have and may already be having severe ecological and economic effects. The bill will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide by 81% from 2000 levels, to a 2.25 million ton cap. Nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 71% from 2000 levels, to 1.51 million tons. And carbon dioxide will be capped at 21% below 2000 levels, or 2.05 billion tons. Mercury will be controlled to 90% below 1999 levels, or 5 tons. The bill has a hybrid allocation system for distributing the allowances for the three capped and tradable pollutants (NOx, SOx, CO2). Nearly two-thirds of the credits go to households and consumers. The rest go to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, plus some for transitioning industries and existing power plants. This system rewards the cleanest power producers and ensures that the public gets compensated adequately for the polluters use of the atmosphere. Cosponsors include U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe, R – Me., Patrick Leahy, D – Vt., Charles Schumer, D- NY, Joseph Biden, D- Del., Barbara Boxer, D - Cal., Hillary Clinton, D - NY, Jon Corzine, D – NJ, Chris Dodd, D – Conn., Russ Feingold, D – Wisc., Diane Feinstein, D – Cal., Edward Kennedy, D – Mass., John Kerry, D – Mass., Frank Lautenberg, D – NJ, Jack Reed, D – RI, Paul Sarbanes, D – Md., Ron Wyden, D – Or. The Clean Power Act of 2005 Purpose - The purpose of the legislation is to reduce electric power plant emissions of sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide, which cause some of the nation’s most serious public health and environmental problems. Emission Caps - This legislation builds on the success of the cap and trade system created in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which reduced emissions of the acid rain-causing pollutant sulfur dioxide by almost 10 million tons from 1980 levels. The Clean Power Act applies that system to further cost-effectively reduce sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide. Electric generating facilities (EGFs) larger than 15 MW must reduce as follows by 2010: Sulfur dioxide reduced by 81% from 2000 levels - 2.25 million ton cap (Eastern 1.975m/Western .275m) Nitrogen oxides reduced by 71% from 2000 levels - 1.51 million ton cap Carbon dioxide reduced by 21% from 2000 levels - 2.05 billion ton cap Mercury - Emission limitations are imposed on EGFs that would result in a 90% reduction by 2009, consistent with the existing consent decree schedule, down to a 5 ton cap. Provides some flexibility in meeting limitations by allowing averaging of emissions between units at a single facility. EPA must regulate other Hazardous Air Pollutants from utilities on the same schedule. Modernization - Every outdated power plant would have to apply the best available pollution control technology by its 40th birthday or 2014, whichever is later. Allocation - Tradable allowances or the fair market value of the allowances representing the three pollutants (NOx, SOx, CO2), are distributed in five main categories: 63% or more to households; 6% and declining over time for transition assistance to affected communities and industries; up to 20% to renewable energy generation, efficiency projects and cleaner energy sources, based on avoided pollution; 10% to existing EGFs based on 2003 output; and, up to 1.5075% of the carbon dioxide allowances for biological and geological carbon sequestration. EPA would be responsible for appointing trustees who would obtain the maximum value of allowances for distribution to the public. Carbon Dioxide - Intersector trading of pollution allowances is not permitted. If another industrial sector adopts an emission control program that limits total carbon dioxide emissions, then carbon dioxide allowance trading between EGFs and that sector may occur. Local Air Quality Protection - The legislation does not abolish or weaken any existing local or regional air quality protection authorities that serve as a backup for states to take actions necessary to achieve and maintain air quality standards. In addition, the EPA is directed to reduce emissions further if sensitive ecosystems are threatened by air pollution or the trading system does not adequately protect local or regional air quality.