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Media: Press Release

Public Citizen
Public Citizen
  SEED Coalition
SEED Coalition
TEXAS ENVIRONMENTAL, CLEAN AIR ADVOCATES PRAISE SENATE MOVEMENT ON CLEAN AIR
Key Committee Vote Shows Power Plant Clean-Up Plan Moving Forward

June 27, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
Karen Hadden
(512) 797-8481
Tom "Smitty" Smith
512-797-8468

Austin— Leading Texas clean air and environmental advocates, in coalition with religious, consumer and sportsmen groups praised the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for voting today to move ahead with the Clean Power Act, the leading plan to clean up the oldest and dirtiest "Grandfathered" power plants.

The Clean Power Act would clean up coal burning power plants that are responsible for over 30,000 deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks. Unlike some other plans, including the President’s, the Clean Power Act includes mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.

Senator Jeffords and Lieberman’s bill, S556,the Clean Smokestacks Act, passed in the Environment and Public Works Committee today by a vote of 10-9.

The Environment and Public Works Committee should be commended for moving to protect public health and the environment, when the President would not," said Karen Hadden, Deputy Director of the SEED (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development) Coalition. "The Senators were willing to work for the people who elected them, not for the big campaign contributors." Hadden noted that "The Clean Air Act should remain intact and be enforced, but despite massive input by citizens, the Administration is beginning to rollback the Clean Air Act protections we need. The current federal law should be enforce and the Clean Power Act should be passed by Congress in order to save lives and protect the health of all Texans."

The Clean Power Act would have a dramatic impact on public health in Texas. The bill would limit the amount of toxic mercury emitted by these plants, which can result in damage to human nervous systems. "This is especially important since Texas leads the nation in power plant mercury emissions with 9,300 pounds going into the air each year, one tenth the total for the whole nation." noted Hadden. " Mercury from coal-burning plants gets into lakes and then into fish, making some fish unsafe to eat and posing special risks for pregnant women and young children," stated Ed Parten, President of Texas Black Bass Unlimited.

"Over 1300 Texans have their lives shortened each year by particle pollution from these old, dirty power plants; but up to 800 of these deaths would be avoided by putting the Clean Power Act into effect. It’s time for all Senators to act to protect our health. Senate Candidate John Cornyn should reconsider his opposition, and Candidate Ron Kirk has yet to commit to cosponsoring the Clean Power Act. The health of all Texans, and especially our children, must be given the highest priority" stated Tom "Smitty" Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office.

Texas’ coal-burning power plants emit pollution that triggers 31,700 asthma attacks in Texas every year, many of which occur in children. If these plants were required to install modern pollution controls and comply with the law, over 19,000 of these attacks would be avoided.

The Clean Power Act also requires the oldest and dirtiest power plants to reduce carbon dioxide, which forms a heat-trapping blanket in the atmosphere, leading to global warming. As recently documented in the "Climate Action Report 2002," put together by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and other agencies, Texas will be severely impacted by global warming.

"One major ddifference between the Clean Power Act and the President’s plan is the Jeffords bill requires carbon reductions, and the President’s plan does nothing to reduce greenhouse gases. Since we lead the nation in our ability to generate renewable energy, no state stands to benefit more than Texas by the carbon reduction requirements," stated Tom "Smitty" Smith.

# # #

A statement by Senator Jim Jeffords can be found at:
http://jeffords.senate.gov/~jeffords/press/02/06/06262002pollution_statement.html

Sources include Death, Disease, and Dirty Power, a report by Clear the Air, available at www.cleartheair.org.

Global warming information is available at
http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/impacts/stateimp/texas/index.html

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Comparisons of Clean Power Act (S556) and President’s "Clear Skies" Proposal From Myths annd Realities of the Clean Power Act – by National Environmental Trust

 
NOxCap – S556: 75% reduction from 1997 levels (Now by 2008) "Clear Skies": 67% reduction from 1997 levels by 2018, in two steps – 2008, 2018
 
SO2 Cap – S556: 75 % reduction below full implementation of the Acid Rain Program (Now by 2008) "Clear Skies": 73% reduction by 2018, 2 steps- 2010, 2018
 
Mercury Cap- S556: 90% reduction from 1999 levels, no trading (Now by 2008) "Clear Skies": 63% reduction by 2018 – 2 steps- 2010, 2018
 
CO2 Cap- S556- Capt CO2 at 1990 levels (Now by 2008) "Clear Skies": Not required

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U.S. Conference of Mayors Resolution-
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages the Administration to enforce existing regulations and Congress to pass new legislation requiring older power plants to reduce all air emissions, focusing on results-based outcomes; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports a comprehensive and synchronized multi-pollutant market-based program to reduce regulatory costs, maintain reliable energy for consumers, and provide certainty to the electric power sector in ways that do not compromise public health; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages Congress to set national air emission caps under a multi-pollutant plan at levels strong enough to substantively assist cities in their efforts to attain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards by statutory guidelines; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages Congress to neither preempt nor restrict the ability of State and local authorities to take further action in this area if needed; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until any new programs have been proven over time to be as protective as current Clean Air Act programs, The U.S. Conference of Mayors encourages EPA and Congress to keep those programs in place, with multi-pollutant legislation as an addition to current clean air law.

 

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