Clarity Needed on Clear Skies

Comments from NCPPR research associate Eric Chapman:

Bruce Barcott’s New York Times Magazine cover story on April 4, 2004, “Changing All the Rules,” criticized the Bush Administration for its failure to pass the President’s energy bill and said the President’s Clear Skies initiative is collecting dust on a committee shelf.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Bush energy bill. The problem lies in the Senate, where Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) refuses to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Furthermore, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) vows to filibuster any bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Also, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the ranking minority member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, opposes letting the bill leave the committee.

As for the Clear Skies package, both chambers of Congress have taken action (H.R. 999 and S. 485), but subcommittee hearings and committee markups are not instantaneous, especially in an election year in which election politics and senatorial campaigns are taking precedent. Action, if and when taken, on the Clear Skies initiative will provide power plants with needed flexibility to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury in an inexpensive way.

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