Today the Bush Administration launched an attack on the health of our nations children. Asthma has reached epidemic proportions among our children, and new Clean Air Act rules announced by the Administration today will drive the number of asthma sufferers even higher.
Under the grandfather provisions in the Clean Air Act, many of the oldest and dirtiest power plants and refineries were allowed to keep polluting, because they were expected to close down soon. Unfortunately, many of them did not close. Current law requires them to upgrade their pollution control equipment whenever they make significant modifications that increase air pollution. The program is known as New Source Review.
In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration found that many of these plants were staying open and expanding their facilities without installing the required air pollution controls. The Administration filed suit against 14 electric utilities for violating the Clean Air Act. Two of the companies settled the suits, but the rest have been hanging back, looking for help from the Bush Administration.
And the Bush Administration eagerly stepped forward to help those polluters. The new rules announced today punch huge new loopholes in the Clean Air Act. In addition to power plants and refineries, the rules affect more than 18,000 industrial facilities, such as incinerators, steel mills, and paper plants.
According to a recent study by EPA consultants, air pollution from the plants covered by the New Source Review provisions shorten the lives of as many as 9,000 Americans each year. Pollution from these plants also causes between 107,000 and 170,000 asthma attacks each year, mostly in children.
Its time to put our childrens lives and our environment first, ahead of the profits of large industrial facilities. Its time for President Bush to strengthen, not weaken, the Clean Air Act.
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