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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bush Pollution Plan At Odds With States-Rights Principles by Govs. Schwarzenegger, Pataki

For Immediate Release

(Washington, DC. January 26, 2005) – The Bush administrations air pollution plan for the electric power industry is “at serious odds” with a new states’-rights declaration by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Governor George Pataki, the non-profit Clean Air Watch noted today.

The two governors sent a joint letter today to the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as the panel held a hearing on the Bush plan, a polluter-friendly proposal euphemistically called the “clear skies initiative.”

In their letter, the two governors reminded Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT) that “one of the cornerstones” of the Clean Air Act is “that states do the majority of the work to carry out its mandates,” and that the law “allows individual states to have stronger pollution controls than those set for the whole country – a right California and New York have exercised under the Act.”

The governors added that that their states and others “will need all the tools available under the Act to craft effective strategies to meet” new federal health standards for smog and fine particle soot.

As Congress considers new legislation on the subject, the governors pleaded that “states maintain the ability to have stronger pollution controls than those set for the nation as a whole.”

Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, noted that “The governors comments are at serious odds with the President’s pollution plan,” which would take away some existing states’ rights and some of the key tools needed to meet health standards. “It’s no coincidence they sent their plan to Senators Inhofe and Jeffords as they began to consider the President’s polluter-friendly plan,” O’Donnell added.

O’Donnell noted, for example, that the President’s pollution plan would take away the right of states to take action against pollution blowing in from other states. “This attack on states’ rights would make it virtually impossible for downwind states to protect their citizens,” O’Donnell said.

The President’s plan, which has been endorsed by some of the nation’s biggest polluters, would eliminate new source review, a tool used by states to protect local communities from harm caused by pollution.

The polluter-protection plan would also interfere with state cleanup efforts by creating new pollution havens called “transition zones” – a provision that state and local regulators today said could “impede timely implementation of state and local regulatory initiatives.”

The state and local regulators concluded that the President’s plan “strips away many of our most essential Clean Air Act tools and authorities,” and said they could not endorse it, O’Donnell noted.

“The state and local air pollution regulators obviously stand squarely with Governors Schwarzenegger and Pataki,” O’Donnell said. “For clean air – and against the President’s attempt to undermine state authorities.”

The full letter is available from Clean Air Watch by calling (202) 558-3527.

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