Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Tom Carper today voted to oppose the Administration's rollbacks of portions of the federal Clean Air Act until the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences completes a study of the rollback's impact on pollution levels and public health. Carper voted for an amendment offered by Senator John Edwards to the federal appropriations bill that would postpone the Administrations' decision to allow some old factories and power plants to increase their pollution levels without having to install state-of-the-art Clean Air technology. Before the Administration's "New Source Review" rollback, the plants were required to install that technology under the federal Clean Air Act. The amendment failed in a close vote. "Allowing these rollbacks to go forward without new emissions limits sets back the cause of clean air," Carper said. "Reducing emissions while retaining affordable, reliable electricity was a far more achievable goal when New Source Review reform is tied to emission reductions." Senator Carper joined 43 other members from both parties in signing a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Whitman before the Administration handed down its New Source Review decision. "While EPA should be free to pursue thoughtful changes to New Source Review that reduce regulatory burdens while strengthening public health protection, we see no reason to believe that the proposed changes adequately protect air quality," the Senators wrote. "In fact, because the specific changes proposed have not been subject to careful study and full public comment, we have serious concerns that the changes could allow more air pollution - causing more asthma, more heart and lung problems, and more premature deaths." Carper joined Senators Lincoln Chafee (R- RI), John Breaux (D- LA) and Max Baucus (D- MT) last year in introducing a "four pollutant" bill called the Clean Air Planning Act of 2002 (CAP 2002). The legislation sets national caps on emissions from electric power plants- including carbon dioxide, and provides a better alternative to existing Clean Air proposals because it cleans up emissions without impeding economic growth. The bipartisan centrist coalition is committed to reintroducing the legislation this session. Senator Carper joined 43 other members from both parties in signing this letter to EPA Administrator Christine Whitman before the Administration handed down its New Source Review decision. The Honorable Christine Whitman Administrator U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 401 M Street, S.W. Washington, DC 20460 Dear Administrator Whitman: The Clean Air Act is a vital tool for protecting the Nation's health and environment, including our National Parks. With mounting medical evidence that air pollution causes asthma attacks, cardiopulmonary disease, and premature death - particularly among children and the elderly - we need to strengthen clean air protections whenever possible. Given our strong commitment to protecting Americans' health, we believe that the changes you announced on June 13, 2002 to the Clean Air Act's "New Source Review" are extremely troubling. On their face, many of these changes to NSR - for example, giving factories greater leeway to choose how their pollution is measured - appear likely to increase pollution levels. Unsurprisingly, the states' air pollution control administrators have expressed concerns that the new regulations will make it more difficult for the states to attain national clean air standards. Yet as Assistant Administrator Jeffrey Holmstead admitted at a recent hearing, EPA now plans to make these changes without having conducted a full analysis of their impact on air quality and public health, and without providing a full opportunity for public notice and comment on the changes EPA is now proposing. While EPA should be free to pursue thoughtful changes to New Source Review that reduce regulatory burdens while strengthening public health protection, we see no reason to believe that the proposed changes adequately protect air quality. In fact, because the specific changes proposed have not been subject to careful study and full public comment, we have serious concerns that the changes could allow more air pollution - causing more asthma, more heart and lung problems, and more premature deaths. We therefore ask that, before finalizing any of these changes, EPA conduct a rigorous analysis of the air pollution and public health impacts of the proposed rule changes and give the public full opportunity to comment on these changes. As we are sure you agree, EPA should not finalize a rule that allows increased air pollution or undercuts the health of any of America's children or seniors. In the meantime, until the law is changed, we ask your continued commitment to enforce the Clean Air Act as it is written. Sincerely, Thomas R. Carper