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[greenyes] Setback for President Bush - Deadlock in Power Plant Emissions Vote


Passage of the Bush Administration's "Clear Skies" bill to cut air pollution
from coal-fired powerplants appear dim, after the U.S. Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee deadlocked again with a 9-9 vote today. Republican
Senator Lincoln D. Chafee (RI) broke with the majority, joining 8 Democrats and
independent Senator James M. Jeffords (VT) in voting against the bill.

While it may still be too early to pronounce the Bush plan dead in the
Senate, the continuing committee deadlock is a victory for environmentalists and
governors who opposed the bill. EPA is still obligated to issues rules of its
own by next week (March 15), in response to a consent decree in a suit brought
by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Concern has been expressed about the mercury standard EPA is considering,
which may not provide adequate protection to children and pregnant women.

For more detail on the Senate Committee vote today, please see excerpts from
a Reuters copywrited story below. The portions reproduced are for editorial
comment in the list serve dilagoue.

Lance King
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Updated: 01:23 PM EST
Utility Pollution Bill Stalls in Senate Committee
By Chris Baltimore, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Bush administration plan to cut air pollution from
coal-fired power plants failed to pass the Senate Environment Committee on
Wednesday, a setback for a bill that critics said favors the utility industry over
public health.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency faces a March 15 court deadline
to issue its own rules, which will closely mirror the unsuccessful bill.

Senate panel chairman James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a Republican, delayed a vote
by the committee three times in recent weeks as he tried to get one more vote
for the "Clear Skies" legislation.

But the panel deadlocked 9-9, with Democrats, Rhode Island Republican Lincoln
Chafee and independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont voting against the bill.
The bill would cut emissions of three harmful pollutants from 1,300 U.S.
coal-fired power plants by 2016 through a cap-and-trade system.

Opponents said the plan would give utilities too much time to install costly
pollution-reduction equipment and would fail to require cuts in heat-trapping
greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

"The U.S. Congress is the last bastion of denial on climate change," Chafee
said.
Many scientists blame carbon dioxide for a gradual rise in earth temperature
that is affecting coastal areas, icebergs, and wildlife.

Inhofe said there was "not a chance in the world" that mandatory carbon caps
could pass the full Senate, and blamed "environmental extremists" for trying
to block the bill. ...

Now that the Senate bill has failed, the EPA is expected to issue rules to
limit utility emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

The EPA faces a court-ordered March 15 deadline because of a consent decree
the Bush administration signed with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an
environmental group that has pressed for reductions in mercury emissions, which
can harm young children's developing nervous systems.

Other emissions from coal-fired plants, which generate about half of the
nation's electricity, have been linked to asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.

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