Clean Power Act Would Benefit D.C.

The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) is seeking support for The Clean Power Act S.556, proposed by Senator Jeffords (I-Vt.), and H.R. 1256.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2002 [] These bills would amend the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions from power plants, targeting four pollutants that adversely affect health and the region’s environment – sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide. The bill, currently before the House of Representatives, would reduce emissions from power plants, in a manner allowing emissions trading significantly, but without sacrificing local air quality improvements. The Clean Power Act will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants 75 percent (from 1997 levels) by 2007 and bring older power plants into compliance with modern emissions standards. Also, it would affect the dirtiest plants in upwind states, significantly reducing transported pollution. Up to one-third of the pollution in the Washington region comes from sources outside the region. Ground-level ozone is a public health issue, causing respiratory problems among those that work or exercise outdoors regularly, and especially among young children, the elderly and those with chronic respiratory diseases. The Metropolitan Washington area does not meet current federal air quality standards for ozone. MWAQC officials say the Environmental Protection Agency likely will require the Washington region to meet a tougher standard by 2009. Therefore, it is critically important that S.556 calls for emissions reductions by 2007. Postponing emissions reductions from utilities until 2018, as proposed in the EPA’s Clear Skies Initiative, will delay attainment for nine more years and prolong unhealthy conditions for the region’s nearly one- half million residents that suffer from chronic asthma and bronchitis, the panel said. Without controls on the region’s power plants, the area will not be able to demonstrate attainment of the federal health standard for ozone and lose federal transportation funding. MWAQC is certified by the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of the District of Columbia to develop a regional ground-level ozone strategy for the Washington, D.C., non-attainment area.
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