Senate Blocks 'Clear Skies Act'

The Senate blocked President Bush’s Clear Skies Act (CSA) by a 9 to 9 vote. The CSA according to a White House release would, “…reduce [air pollution] by 70% using proven market-based approaches that will save American consumers millions of dollars.” (The White House, 2002). The CSA is a modernization of the Clean Air Act written in the 70’s. President Bush’s goal in rewriting this pollution law is double-fold. The CSA will “meet environmental goals and provide affordable electricity” to consumers. (The White House, 2002).

New pollution regulations will be set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act will remain in effect. In a speech in Ohio, President Bush voiced his disagreement with the new EPA rules claiming they are “poor substitutes”. (Vedantam, 2005, 11). “Connaughton and several Republicans said that overly stringent measures would raise the price of power, hit seniors hard and cause polluting industries to leave U.S. shores for countries with lower standards. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Inhofe (R-Okla.) cited support from some unions and seniors organizations, along with most industry groups,” reported Vedantam. (Vedantam, 2005, 15).

Information on potential effects of the CSA varies so greatly that it is difficult to know which side to take. From the White House perspective, measures outlined in the CSA will reduce incidences of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. As a result, one-billion dollars in compliance costs will be eliminated. These savings will result in lower electricity costs for consumers. These goals are commendable…cleaner environment, cleaner air, fatter wallets, and healthier Americans.

If this bill reduces compliance costs so much, why aren’t more businesses lobbying for it? Maybe power companies have not been approached about the bill. Detailed information should be sent to business that will be affected by the bill. The lobbying power of these businesses could tip the scales in Bush’s favor.

1 comment:

Dr. Tufte said...

This is pure politics. Senator Chafee, who was necessary for the bill to go forward, blocked it. The logic is that because it does not address the environmental issue that concerns him the most, he will deny a move forward on other issues.

BTW: the cap and trade system mentioned at the bottom of the article is based on selling licenses to pollute, as I discussed when we did the tragedy of the commons experiment.