Attorneys General Urge Bush not to Consider Easing Power Plant Emissions Standardsby Shannon McCaffrey, Associated Press
Spokesman Review, January 9, 2002
WASHINGTON-- The Bush administration is considering relaxing clean-air standards for power plants, which environmentalists and Northeastern states strongly oppose and the energy industry favors.
Attorneys general from six Northeastern states traveled to Washington Tuesday to warn that they will sue if the Clean Air Act is weakened. "We will absolutely go to court to forestall these new rules and regulations," said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Northeastern states say they are victims of Midwest power plant emissions that drift east on prevailing winds, polluting the air and water and exacerbating health problems such as asthma.
The White House did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday. But the Energy Department released a report recently that found Clean Air Act requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would cost companies billions of dollars and add to energy costs.
In the spring, the Bush administration began re-evaluating requirements mandating that power companies upgrade their plants when they put in place more stringent pollution controls.
The attorneys general said one of the most alarming revisions being considered by the administration involves changing the definition of routine maintenance so that it would allow massive overhauls but not require more pollution controls.
The attorneys general also complained they have been left out of discussions on the issue, while energy lobbyists — some with close ties to the administration — have been allowed in.
Among those lobbyists is former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, recently tapped by President Bush to take over the Republican National Committee. Additionally, Bush's point man on energy policy is Vice President Dick Cheney, the former chief executive of Halliburton Co., a Dallas-based oil company.
In addition to Spitzer, attorneys general from Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island were in Washington. Attorneys general from Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey submitted statements of support.
Northeastern states already have sued 11 power pants in the Midwest, alleging they are not complying with Clean Air Act requirements.
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