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Friday, December 17, 2004

Bush Administration Gives Polluters Early Christmas Present

(Washington, DC. December 17, 2004) – Many big polluters received an early Christmas present today, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified areas around the nation that it says need to reduce dangerous particle soot pollution, according to the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell said the EPA omitted many areas with big smokestack polluters that are harming public health.

“In effect, the EPA gave these big polluters an early Christmas present,” O’Donnell said.

He noted that microscopic soot particles cause heart and lung problems and have been linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year.

“There is an urgent need to clean up the biggest sources of particle soot, including coal-fired electric power plants and existing dirty diesel engines,” O’Donnell said.

EPA’s list of dirty-air areas -- the so-called “designations” -- is crucial, because it becomes the driving force behind cleanup of power plants, diesel engines, and other sources of microscopic soot. States are required to draw up plans to meet the new standards.

Our friends at Clear the Air (they did the work on this and deserve the credit) have developed a comprehensive list of electric power plants that would get off the hook.

O’Donnell noted this was the second time within a week that the Bush administration gave big polluters a huge break.

O’Donnell noted that EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt bowed to polluter-generated pressure from the White House and delayed rules designed to reduce pollution that crosses from one state to another. The Bush administration put those rules on ice in order to promote its regressive “clear skies” initiative in Congress.

“It is deplorable that EPA has delayed new clean-air requirements that would have made progress in cleaning up power plants,” O’Donnell said.

Earlier this week, EPA released a report which showed recent improvement in particle soot. The report concluded that further progress could be made if EPA moved forward with the proposed rules designed to reduce interstate pollution.

“The tragic irony here is that EPA’s career experts correctly noted that moving forward with these standards would help us make progress in protecting public health,” O’Donnell said. “Instead, the White House decided to play footsy with big polluters, and to play politics with peoples’ health.”

Clean Air Watch was recently incorporated as a non-profit organization to function as a watchdog on clean-air issues. It is headed by Frank O’Donnell, formerly executive director of the Clean Air Trust.

[Our web site is under development at http://www.cleanairwatch.org/. Please check in soon for updates.]

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