Senate Panel to Draft Utility Pollution Bill
- Frustrated with the Bush administration's approach to
curb pollution from U.S. utilities, the Senate Environment
Committee will draft legislation that would sharply limit
power plant emissions linked to global warming and acid
Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Vermont independent who heads the
panel, wants to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 43
percent, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by 82 percent,
and mercury by 90 percent. The four pollutants contribute
to smog, soot and acid rain and are blamed for health
ailments such as asthma and bronchitis.
Democrat-controlled panel will hold a bill-drafting session
after months of delays while attempting to devise a compromise
with Republican lawmakers.
acknowledged that his legislation faces an uphill battle.
The Republican-led House has shown little interest in
a utility pollution bill, and Congress is scheduled to
adjourn in October.
though there is precious little time left in this session,
and very little constructive engagement from the Administration,
it's vitally important that we move forward to reduce
power plants' emissions," he said in a statement.
bill would require the cuts by 2008.
U.S. utility industry opposes any legislation, saying
strict emissions limits would be costly to carry out and
force many plants to shut down.
Bush administration earlier this year proposed mandatory
70 percent cuts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and
mercury emissions by 2018. The proposal, which has yet
to be spelled out in legislation, would largely depend
on encouraging companies to trade emissions credits.
White House plan did not set any limit for carbon dioxide,
the pollutant that many scientists blame for global warming.
preliminary version of Jeffords' bill would set annual
emission limits of 1.5 million tons of nitrogen oxides,
2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, and 5 tons of mercury.
sulfur dioxide, the bill would set one limit of 275,000
tons for western states and a higher limit of 1.98 million
tons for eastern states.
Senate proposal also included a provision allowing U.S.
utilities to meet the new limits by trading emission allowances
among themselves, except for mercury.