The updated modeling uses the most recent air quality data, census information, and modeling techniques. The new analysis projects that Clear Skies' health benefits are higher than previously estimated. It also shows that the country would come close to full attainment for the national fine particle standard based on the benefits of Clear Skies, the administration's proposed off-road diesel rule and additional existing requirements.
"The results of the updated analysis reaffirms that President Bush's Clear Skies program would greatly reduce air pollution from power plants, cost-effectively helping to ensure that we have a reliable, affordable supply of electricity along with cleaner air," said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation. "Our updated modeling incorporates the best scientific and technical information available, and shows us how imperative it is for the Congress to enact Clear Skies this year."
Meanwhile, the Natural Resources Defense Council is stepping up it's attacks on what it perceives to be the Bush Administration's attempts to rollback the Clean Air Act.
The group has created a graphic television campaign that confronts the White House and power companies over toxic mercury and other dangerous chemicals.
In the commercial, the camera flies low over a computer-enhanced landscape, zooming in on high-resolution satellite images of a sprawling industrial complex. A voice describes a potent threat on American soil: toxic mercury in the water; invisible poisons released in the air.
The voiceover announces the government isn't stopping it. "Is it terrorism?" the voice wonders. "No," viewers are told, "Just business as usual for hundreds of electric company power plants located in communities across America."
The spots are already airing in Washington, D.C. and other markets including the headquarters of the country's largest power plant polluters.
"Poisonous emissions from power plants harm thousands of Americans every day with asthma, heart attacks and strokes, and every day some of those people die. One-in-12 American women of childbearing age has unsafe levels of mercury in her body. On top of all that, global warming pollution brings a whole new level of health and environmental risk," said Dan Lashof, science director of the NRDC Climate Center. "Power plants aren't weapons, but they are causing mass destruction."
The Bush Administration, however, claims Clear Skies, EPA's proposed non-road rule and other existing state and federal measures such as pollution controls for cars, trucks and industrial boilers would bring the country close to full attainment for the fine particle standard. The updated modeling projects that by 2020, Clear Skies alone would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits, save millions of dollars in health care costs and prolong thousands of lives because of reduced fine particle pollution. By 2020, more than18 million people in the eastern United States who currently live in counties that do not meet national air quality standards would be breathing clean air as a result of Clear Skies.
Upon full implementation, in 2020, the Administration claims Clear Skies would reduce levels of sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxides from power plants by nearly 70 percent over year 2000 levels.