critic clash over Bush's air pollution proposal
GARY WISBY ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTER
Chicago Sun Times
air advocates and the head of the regional Environmental
Protection Agency clashed Monday over the merits of President
Bush's Clear Skies Initiative.
Region 5 Administrator Tom Skinner said the plan "makes
the most ambitious cuts in power plant emissions since
the 1990 Clean Air Act."
Ron Burke of the Chicago Lung Association countered: "We're
calling it a rollback."
said that by cutting cases of asthma, bronchitis and other
respiratory ailments, the Clear Skies plan would save
$93 billion in health costs by 2020. Savings in Region
5's six Midwestern states would amount to $17 billion,
that period, 12,000 people will avoid premature death,
including 2,500 in the Midwest, Skinner said. Although
power plants will be forced to cut emissions, the cost
of electricity in the Chicago area will remain below average,
Burke said the proposal's purpose "is to protect
polluters from the Clean Air Act. It is a smokescreen
for thousands of needless deaths and billions in health
said that while it mandates reductions in emissions of
nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury, the Bush plan
says nothing about carbon dioxide--unlike the Jeffords-Lieberman
bill in the Senate.
aide Douglas Aburano said that's because technology to
remove carbon dioxide emissions has not been developed
Thompson of the Clean Air Task Force said the Bush plan
is "a very modest proposal." For example, its
promise to avoid 2,500 deaths locally by 2020 compares
with avoiding 3,800 deaths by 2007 in the Senate bill.
is no change until 2018," Thompson said. "It
has no bite until my 2-year-old enters college."
a related development Monday, the state EPA said the Chicago
area has failed to achieve a federal goal for ozone after
earlier indications it would meet the standard.
area's failure to meet the one-hour ozone standard was
caused by muggy weather in late June, the state EPA said.
fall, the Chicago region became the nation's largest metro
area to achieve the goal, and was the first to do so after
being designated "severe non-attainment" in
meet the goal, the area can't exceed the standard more
than three times over three years. The Chiwaukee station
in Wisconsin went over the limit once in 2000 and three
times during June 22-24.
EPA Director Renee Cipriano said that weekend had the
most conducive weather conditions for ozone formation
since July 1988. Ozone is created when sunlight reacts
with volatile organic materials and nitrogen oxides.