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 the latest version of President Bush’s Clear Skies Act, which would reduce pollution from power plants by 70 percent by 2018.

Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Voinovich released the following statements today:

Sen. Inhofe:

“Now that the Senate has rejected economically harmful restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, it’s time to pass the President’s Clear Skies initiative, which will provide real public health and environmental benefits to the American people.

Clear Skies, the most aggressive presidential initiative in history to reduce power plant pollution, will dramatically reduce the number of premature deaths, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses. If the environmental community is serious about protecting the environment, it will stop playing politics with carbon dioxide, which is not a pollutant, and work with Congress to pass Clear Skies to achieve immediate health benefits.

“After an extended period of work on this legislation, we have introduced a chairman’s mark that faithfully adheres to President Bush’s ambitious goal of reducing pollution by 70 percent by 2018. Over the course of the year, Administration officials, during a series of hearings on this issue, provided the committee with new, updated modeling data. Based on that data, Sen. Voinovich and I revised the bill we introduced in May.

“One of the revisions concerns the appropriate level of mercury reductions required by 2010. Under our bill, that level is 34 tons, which, according to the latest modeling by the Environmental Protection Agency, is “co-benefits,” or the amount of mercury reductions achieved through installing control equipment to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The original bill was based on the best estimate of co-benefits at the time.

“Currently, no commercially available technologies designed specifically to remove mercury from emissions exist. Maintaining co-benefits gives businesses a realistic time frame to invest in technologies that will achieve significant mercury reductions by 2018. Any level that is more stringent than co-benefits would impose an unrealistic burden on businesses and cause fuel switching away from coal to natural gas. This is something President Bush understands, and why the Administration ensured that Congress had the best data available in crafting this legislation.

“As I have outlined in a detailed analysis, the nation is mired in a natural gas crisis. Policies that dramatically, and artificially, increase demand for natural gas, the price of which is already at an historic high, threaten job creation and economic growth. Moreover, it would cause unacceptable increases in electricity prices that disproportionately impact minorities, the poor, and the elderly.”

Sen. Voinovich:

“The Senate made it clear in a bipartisan vote last week that it won’t support legislation that cripples businesses and costs American jobs in the name of the environment. I believe there is still interest in enacting meaningful legislation to improve air quality, however, which is why I’m joining Sen. Inhofe in reintroducing the President’s Clear Skies plan. “The Clear Skies Act is an example of environmental legislation that will protect our economy. It would enact the largest reduction in toxic emissions in the history of the Clean Air Act and provide a stable regulatory environment that will allow industry to install necessary pollution controls without the fear that those controls will be obsolete before they are paid for. It will result in cleaner air, less regulation and litigation, and lower energy costs to manufacturers and American consumers. Simply put, this legislation will provide tremendous benefits to the environment and is crucial to the long-term survival of our economy and our manufacturing base.”

“We hope to be able to pass it when Congress returns next year.”

A summary of the bill's changes is attached.