Carper to Push for Strong Clean Air Bill in Senate
President’s Plan Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Fast Enough
WILMINGTON, DE (March 4, 2005) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today joined local environmental groups to urge the Senate to take up and pass clean air legislation this year that would better protect Delaware’s air quality than President Bush’s so-called “Clear Skies” proposal. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next week is scheduled to take up the president’s plan, which Carper said doesn’t go “far enough, fast enough” toward regulating dangerous emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide. Carper also criticized the “Clear Skies” for being silent on the threat posed by global warming. “The president’s plan doesn’t go far enough, fast enough, and it completely misses the mark on carbon dioxide and global warming,” said Carper. “The simple truth is, we can do better than what President Bush has proposed. I hope we will.” Carper noted that the president’s plan would not be a solution to the region’s air problems. EPA’s own analysis of the president’s plan says that 15 years from now, parts of Delaware would still not meet EPA’s current health standards for ozone (smog), and New Castle County would still not meet EPA’s standards for fine particulate matter (soot). The president’s plan also ignores global warming, even though the nation’s top scientists believe human activity is contributing to climate change that could threaten our natural resources, including Delaware’s coastline. “The United States has a responsibility to lead on the issue of global warming and to take the first step toward putting the brakes on our emissions of carbon dioxide,” said Carper. “The president said the same thing when he first ran for president in 2000, but he has apparently changed his mind. Even though the president doesn’t intend to follow through with his promise, I do.” Carper, the senior Democrat on the Senate’s clean air subcommittee, said he is currently working with Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop a bipartisan alternative to the president’s plan that achieves substantially greater pollution reductions from power plants, while taking the first steps toward regulating carbon dioxide. Carper said he hopes a bill he previously authored could serve as a basis for a bipartisan deal that can pass the Senate. In the last Congress, Carper was the primary sponsor of the bipartisan Clean Air Planning Act, which would more quickly reduce power plant emissions of mercury, NOx and SOx, while providing needed flexibility for power plants to meet new pollution targets. The bill would also set up a “cap-and-trade” system to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide – the first time the greenhouse gas will have been regulated by the United States. Compared to “Clear Skies,” the Carper bill not only reduces emissions more quickly, it would also result in an additional reduction of 22 million tons of SO2, 3 million tons of NOx, 468,000 pounds of mercury and more than 3 billion tons of CO2 over the next 20 years. An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency noted that the Carper plan would provide substantially better health benefits with only marginally higher costs. EPA data demonstrated that the Carper bill would avoid an additional 88,000 fewer deaths between 2010 and 2020. In 2020, that would mean the Carper plan would save nearly $50 billion in annual health costs above and beyond the president’s proposal. According the Energy Department, the Carper bill would do all this at a negligible cost – in fact, under the Carper scenario, the department says fuel costs in 2020 will still be lower than today’s prices. “Our goal should be to protect the environment and the public health, while keeping the economy strong,” said Carper.