Sen. Lamar Alexander introduces anti-pollution legislation

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) got back to serious business after Monday's silly "English only" National Anthem proposal and introduced new anti-pollution legislation. Sen. Dr. Frist says he won't bring it to the floor.

From Sen. Alexander's press release:

May 3rd, 2006 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) today introduced a new version of their "Clean Air Planning Act" which Alexander says goes "farther and faster than new Bush Clean Air proposals in controlling health-damaging pollution from coal-fired power plants."

"Give the Bush Administration credit: its new clean air rules are important steps forward in reducing air pollution from power plants. But those rules do not go far enough, fast enough to ensure that Tennessee counties come into compliance with federal clean air standards," said Alexander at a press conference on Capitol Hill today. "Our legislation puts stricter standards on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, cuts mercury emissions by 90 percent and addresses climate change by placing a modest cap on carbon emissions.

"My main concern is the threat to the health of Tennesseans caused by ozone and fine particles and mercury," Alexander continued.


Power plants are the single greatest industrial source of four air pollutants, emitting 67 percent of the United State's sulfur dioxide, 23 percent of nitrogen oxides, 37 percent of mercury, and 35 percent of carbon dioxide.


The Clean Air Planning Act of 2006 (CAPA) introduced today goes a step beyond the administration's clean air rules. Specifically, it would:

Cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 82 percent by 2015. CAPA would reduce this acid rain causing pollution from 11 million tons today to a total limit of 4.5 million tons in 2010 and to a total limit of 2 million tons in 2015.

Cut emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by almost 68 percent by 2015. Ozone pollution will be cut from 5 million tons to a total limit of 1.9 million tons in 2010 and to a total limit of 1.62 million tons in 2015.

Cut mercury emissions by 90 percent in 2015. A stringent, yet achievable, goal that would greatly reduce the risks this neurotoxin poses to human health, particularly pregnant women and developing children.

Begin the first-ever national cap on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Emissions would be capped at today's levels in 2010 and then power plants would have to reduce their emissions to 2001 levels in 2015. It is important that the U.S. regulate CO2 from power plants, because CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants equal 10 percent of global CO2 emissions.

The press release also mentions a cap-and-trade scheme for CO2 that would allow TVA to buy credits from a "farmer who plants new trees." That seems a little silly, but overall the proposal is better than the Bush administration's program of rolling back environmental regulations instead of enforcing them. And it's nice to see a Republican acting in a bi-partisan way to exercise the "conserve" part of conservative when it comes to conservation and the environment.

(Ed. note: cross-posted from the author's blog because this is important legislation for the region.)