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Clear Skies Act Receives State and Local Government Support- State and Local Elected Officials Call for Immediate Passage

Release Date: 08/05/2003
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Contact: Lisa Harrison 202-564-9828

(08/05/03) WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bush Administration's Clear Skies Act of 2003, establishing a mandatory multi-pollutant approach to reducing air pollution, is receiving bi-partisan support from state and local elected officials. National government associations, including the National Association of Counties (NACo), U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), have also called on Congress to enact mandatory three-pollutant legislation this year.

At the state level, the Southern Governors Association has recognized the need for national mandatory legislation for reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury from electric utility plants utilizing a cap and trade program. The National Governors Association has adopted a policy that supports mandatory three-pollutant legislation utilizing a flexible, market-based cap and trade program.

“The framework of Clear Skies will provide regulatory certainty and result in the deepest emission reductions for SO2, NOx and mercury in the history of our nation, benefiting power producers and our citizens. I support the passage of the Clear Skies Act during this session of Congress,” said Governor Paul Patton (KY).

In a recent letter to the EPA, Governor Judy Martz (MT) stated, “These reductions will bring important health benefits to our citizens. I am so pleased that the Western Regional Air Partnership agreement will be honored, which will allow future growth in the West to occur without degrading visibility."

Governor Sonny Perdue (GA) expressed the bill’s importance stating, “A strong national multi-pollutant strategy will be needed to help Georgia meet its air quality-related problems…The Administration’s Clear Skies bill will help to address these issues.”

Echoing the support of several of his fellow governors, Governor Mike Huckabee (AR) wrote in a letter to President Bush, “The next step should be immediate passage by Congress of multi-pollutant legislation including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury, like that proposed in your administration’s Clear Skies legislation. Any debates regarding the regulation of carbon dioxide should be dealt with elsewhere, because states need now the timelier and more cost-effective improvements in air quality that your Clear Skies proposal could bring.”

Both the USCM and NCBM have called for the 108th Congress to enact mandatory three-pollutant reduction legislation this year. NCBM passed a resolution earlier this year that “calls on the 108th Congress to enact multi-emissions legislation…that will provide maximum flexibility, cost effectiveness and maintain electric power reliability, availability and affordability.”

Mayor Pat McCrory (Charlotte, NC), former Chair of USCM’s Environment Committee, stated, "The strength of the Clear Skies initiative is it sets clear, strong goals while giving cities and its employers flexibility and means to achieve these much needed objectives."

"Clear Skies is an important initiative that provides a flexible, market-based approach with realistic deadlines. With Clear Skies we will be able to continue to grow our local economy while making our air safer,” said Mayor Bob Young (Augusta, GA).

The plan is also gaining strong support from local county officials. “NACo supports the Administration’s efforts to reduce pollution from electrical power plants through provisions in the Clear Skies Initiative,” stated County Judge Robert Eckels (Harris County, TX).

Legislators throughout the U.S. have also expressed support. Members of New Hampshire’s House of Representatives; Rep. David Lawton, Rep. Beverly Rodeschin, and Rep. Karen McRae, released a joint statement saying, "With regards to Clear Skies legislation, we in New Hampshire support a market based approach to improving air quality. We want a program that is regional, reasonable and backed by science. We urge Congress to pass Clear Skies legislation this year."

State Senator Beverly Gard of Indiana stated, “As Chairman of the Indiana Senate Environmental Affairs Committee, I strongly believe that Clear Skies will build on the progress achieved under the Clean Air Act by cutting pollution faster, and will do it at less cost to consumers and companies than other proposals being discussed.”

Last month, EPA released updated data based on the most recent air quality data, census information and modeling techniques which shows that, combined with EPA’s proposed nonroad diesel rules and existing clean air programs, Clear Skies would bring almost all of the counties in the United States into attainment with the fine particle standards. Additionally, the data demonstrates Clear Skies would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits to human health and the environment, including avoiding more than 14,000 premature deaths, 30,000 fewer hospital visits and 12.5 million fewer days with respiratory illnesses and symptoms.