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Clear Skies Act vs Existing Environmental Legislation - A Step Backwards?

Fencer128

Platinum Member
Jun 18, 2001
2,700
1
71
Hi,

I was discussing environmental issues in another thread and asking what action was being taken in the absence of the Kyoto treaty. One thing I learned is that the "Clean Skies" act (see some of the key details from the whitehouse site) is replacing the existing "Clean Power" act as well as the "Clean Smokestack" act.

When I dug a little deeper I found much complaint as to the new "Clear Skies" act. It seems that some people believe the act will put environmental issues in a worse state than they are now. The last link lists the key criterion on which this is based. Here are the contentious points:

From the "Clear Skies" Act:

Cuts sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 73 percent, from current emissions of 11 million tons to a cap of 4.5 million tons in 2010, and 3 million tons in 2018.

Cuts emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 67 percent, from current emissions of 5 million tons to a cap of 2.1 million tons in 2008, and to 1.7 million tons in 2018.

Cuts mercury emissions by 69 percent -- the first-ever national cap on mercury emissions. Emissions will be cut from current emissions of 48 tons to a cap of 26 tons in 2010, and 15 tons in 2018.
As opposed to existing legistlation through the "Clean Power" act:

`(a) IN GENERAL- Subject to subsections (b) and (c), the Administrator shall promulgate regulations to ensure that, during 2009 and each year thereafter, the total annual emissions of covered pollutants from all electricity generating facilities located in all States does not exceed--

`(1) in the case of sulfur dioxide--

`(A) 275,000 tons in the western region; or

`(B) 1,975,000 tons in the nonwestern region;

`(2) in the case of nitrogen oxides, 1,510,000 tons;

`(3) in the case of carbon dioxide, 2,050,000,000 tons; or

`(4) in the case of mercury, 5 tons.
From these numbers it seems that there is legitimate concern that the "Clear Skies" act will actually be a step backwards! (please see table at bottom of page of my third link for further details). I find it difficult to believe that they could pass a bill that was in every major way a step backwards from the current stance. Can anybody share some more insight/thoughts? Does anyone know if I'm missing something crucial that makes the "Clear Skies" act better and not worse? With numbers like this is it any wonder that many question the US committment to environmental reform and are skeptical concerning the conflict of interests the exists in the administration?

Cheers,

Andy
 

sMiLeYz

Platinum Member
Feb 3, 2003
2,696
0
76
That bill is a joke! The only thing environmentally progressive thing about that bill is the title.
We're better keeping our current standards.

But welcome to Orwellian America, Fencer under Big Brother Bush.

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I love big brother!
 

Insane3D

Elite Member
May 24, 2000
19,446
0
0
You can pretty much expect all enviromental issues to take a step backward under the current administration. I mean who cares about that silly enviroment when we have those sneaky terrorists all around us?!

Seriously though, as long as the current administration is in office, expect little to no advancement of any enviromental issues. In fact, Bush recently changed the emissions regulations for large factories from mandatory emission standards to voluntary ones. We all know those big polluting factories will do a much better job of cleaning up their act on their own terms right?


Oh well...I guess the enviroment will just have a rough go of it until a new, more enviromentally friendy administration comes along...:(
 

sMiLeYz

Platinum Member
Feb 3, 2003
2,696
0
76
Originally posted by: Insane3D
You can pretty much expect all enviromental issues to take a step backward under the current administration. I mean who cares about that silly enviroment when we have those sneaky terrorists all around us?!

Seriously though, as long as the current administration is in office, expect little to no advancement of any enviromental issues. In fact, Bush recently changed the emissions regulations for large factories from mandatory emission standards to voluntary ones. We all know those big polluting factories will do a much better job of cleaning up their act on their own terms right?


Oh well...I guess the enviroment will just have a rough go of it until a new, more enviromentally friendy administration comes along...:(
But you got to give it to Bush... he had the audacity to name the bill "Clear Skies Act".

The bill is going to be "Clearing Skies" alright... clearing skies of clean air!
 

Spyro

Diamond Member
Dec 4, 2001
3,366
0
0
But you got to give it to Bush... he had the audacity to name the bill "Clear Skies Act".

The bill is going to be "Clearing Skies" alright... clearing skies of clean air!
Can you say "PR". :)
 

Insane3D

Elite Member
May 24, 2000
19,446
0
0
Originally posted by: sMiLeYz
Originally posted by: Insane3D
You can pretty much expect all enviromental issues to take a step backward under the current administration. I mean who cares about that silly enviroment when we have those sneaky terrorists all around us?!

Seriously though, as long as the current administration is in office, expect little to no advancement of any enviromental issues. In fact, Bush recently changed the emissions regulations for large factories from mandatory emission standards to voluntary ones. We all know those big polluting factories will do a much better job of cleaning up their act on their own terms right?


Oh well...I guess the enviroment will just have a rough go of it until a new, more enviromentally friendy administration comes along...:(
But you got to give it to Bush... he had the audacity to name the bill "Clear Skies Act".

The bill is going to be "Clearing Skies" alright... clearing skies of clean air!
On the Daily Show the other evening, Joihn Stewart made a comment about some new act created by the Bush administration as "following the pattern of naming a program the complete opposite of what it does". :D;)
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,386
2
81
On the Daily Show the other evening, Joihn Stewart made a comment about some new act created by the Bush administration as "following the pattern of naming a program the complete opposite of what it does". :D;)
The neo-cons and Bush are always lying. All the lies of the neo-cons should be viewed in binary manner. Input What they say is is the inverse from reality.
 

charrison

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
17,033
1
81
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
 

BaliBabyDoc

Lifer
Jan 20, 2001
10,737
0
0
The problem with Bushies is they lie like Clintonites . . . the only difference is the topic.

New source review
The GAO report was requested by Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Vermont independent who heads the Senate Environment committee. Jeffords opposes the Bush administration plan announced last week to ease the so-called "new source" pollution rules for older power plants. Among the proposed changes is a new definition of routine maintenance, which would give utilities more leeway to expand old, dirty plants without having to install expensive state-of-the-art pollution controls.

In all likelihood, EPA estimates of emissions are probably based on the fact that in 2002 over half the US fossil fuel power plants were built before 1972. Many of these high polluters will go off-line in the next two decades . . . which will drastically reduce emissions even if the administration does absolutely nothing.
 

Insane3D

Elite Member
May 24, 2000
19,446
0
0
Originally posted by: charrison
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
Yeah, I'm sure the EPA's site will have a unbiased description of the program. They will probably explain how it will actually make the skies more blue than previously thought possible..
 

Corn

Diamond Member
Nov 12, 1999
6,389
29
91
I certainly am glad that my fellow Republicans and I have our own private cache of clean air and water.


Vote Republican or wheeze!
 

Fencer128

Platinum Member
Jun 18, 2001
2,700
1
71
Originally posted by: charrison
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
Sure, but doesn't the existing legislation do even better? That is the problem I see.

Cheers,

Andy
 

charrison

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
17,033
1
81
Originally posted by: Fencer128
Originally posted by: charrison
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
Sure, but doesn't the existing legislation do even better? That is the problem I see.

Cheers,

Andy
If you bothered to read the the link posted you would have found the clean skies stacks on top of the current regs. At least such a reference was made several times.
 

Fencer128

Platinum Member
Jun 18, 2001
2,700
1
71
Originally posted by: charrison
Originally posted by: Fencer128
Originally posted by: charrison
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
Sure, but doesn't the existing legislation do even better? That is the problem I see.

Cheers,

Andy
If you bothered to read the the link posted you would have found the clean skies stacks on top of the current regs. At least such a reference was made several times.
I did "bother" to read your link. I didn't read the links off of that page - which is I guess to what you refer. Please try to be a little civil in your responses.

EDIT: See next post as I think I have worked this out now.

Could you show how the emission regulations in the "clear skies" act work together with the emissions in "the clean power/smokestacks" acts. I don't see how both limits can be effective at the same time? Surely only one can be in force at any time?

i.e. for Clear Skies act

"Cuts sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 73 percent, from current emissions of 11 million tons to a cap of 4.5 million tons in 2010, and 3 million tons in 2018."

and for existing legislation

"`(a) IN GENERAL- Subject to subsections (b) and (c), the Administrator shall promulgate regulations to ensure that, during 2009 and each year thereafter, the total annual emissions of covered pollutants from all electricity generating facilities located in all States does not exceed--

`(1) in the case of sulfur dioxide--

`(A) 275,000 tons in the western region; or

`(B) 1,975,000 tons in the nonwestern region;"

seem mutually exclusive?

Andy

EDIT: See next post as I think I have worked this out now.

 

Fencer128

Platinum Member
Jun 18, 2001
2,700
1
71
Here is the official note on how the "Clear Skies" act will compare with existing legistlation. Quote from information off of charrison's link.

Frequently Asked Questions

The information presented here reflects EPA's modeling of the Clear Skies Act of 2002. The Agency is in the process of updating this information to reflect modifications included in the Clear Skies Act of 2003. The revised information will be posted here as soon as possible.

What is Clear Skies?

The Clear Skies Act sets forth a mandatory program that would dramatically reduce and permanently limit power plant emissions.
What would Clear Skies do?

Clear Skies would establish caps on sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury emissions at levels 70% below year 2000 emission levels. The caps on emissions, coupled with rigorous monitoring protocols and automatic enforcement provisions, ensure that these reductions would be achieved and sustained over time. Clear Skies would provide these reductions faster, more certainly and at less cost to America's consumers than would current law.
Note that the main points here are:

1. Cap emissions below 2000 levels (I'd like to see how that compares with existing legislation levels)

2. It costs less to impliment.

How does Clear Skies compare to existing air pollution laws?

The Clear Skies Act would move the Clean Air Act forward by providing greater protection over the next decade. Our analyses indicate that the cumulative emissions reductions and health and environmental benefits over the next decade from Clear Skies are markedly greater than could be expected under the current Clean Air Act.
These benefits would happen at a considerably lower cost, and with greater certainty, than would occur under the current Clean Air Act. This is due in large measure to the major innovation of Clear Skies ? a market-based, integrated multi-pollutant strategy for power generation.
Points again are:

1. Cumulative emissions reductions and health and environmental benefits over the next decade from Clear Skies are markedly greater than could be expected under the current Clean Air Act. I don't see how - given the numbers outlined in my first post, that this is the case. Does anyone know how they get to this conclusion?

2. It costs less to impliment.

Clear Skies would require a 70% decrease in power plant emissions of SO2 and NOx, which contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution.
Under Clear Skies, we expect that power plant emissions of SO2 and NOx would be 35 million tons LESS over the next decade than they would be under the current Clean Air Act.

Clear Skies would get greater reductions of SO2 and NOx than we expect from the current Clean Air Act power plant regulations that would be replaced or modified by Clear Skies (e.g., new source review (NSR), regional haze (or BART), the Acid Rain program, and the NOx SIP Call).
Main points:

1. 35 million tons less emission of SO2 an NOx over next decade than existing legislation. How is this? These are the numbers for "Clear Skies" again:

"Cuts sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 73 percent, from current emissions of 11 million tons to a cap of 4.5 million tons in 2010, and 3 million tons in 2018.

Cuts emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 67 percent, from current emissions of 5 million tons to a cap of 2.1 million tons in 2008, and to 1.7 million tons in 2018."

compared to existing legislation that states by 2009 emission levels should be:

`(1) in the case of sulfur dioxide--

`(A) 275,000 tons in the western region; or

`(B) 1,975,000 tons in the nonwestern region;

`(2) in the case of nitrogen oxides, 1,510,000 tons;

This means from 2009-2020 27 million tons more SO2 and 4 million tons more NOx, net, over this period (Takes into account 2008 reductions under Bush plan)over these periods produced under "Clear Skies" compared to existing legislation. Doesn't seem to add up to me?

2. That "Clean Skies" puts harsher limits on SP2/NOx emissions over exisiting legislation? (see above).

Clear Skies would not change the health-based air quality standards for ozone and fine particles ? those standards will still have to be met. In fact, Clear Skies would help bring more areas into attainment with these health-based standards over the next decade than would current law.

Clear Skies would require a 70% decrease in power plant emissions of mercury.

We expect less mercury to be emitted by power plants over the next 5 years if Clear Skies is enacted.

We cannot predict what mercury emissions would be under the current Clean Air Act after that because we are currently engaged in a rulemaking process to set a standard for mercury emissions from power plants which will go into effect no sooner than the end of 2007 (this rule will likely be litigated).
Points:

1. "Clear Skies" will bring more areas into conformity with existing air quality standards than are currently so. I have no idea on the numbers for this one? Anyone?

2. Mercury emissions will lessen over the next 5 years if "Clean Skies" enacted. Clever wording since the existing limits don't come into play until 2008 - which are then harsher than "Clear Skies'" proposals:

Existing legislation states:

5 tons per year by 2008

"Clear Skies" promises:

1st Step 26 tons per year by 2010

2nd Step15 tons per year by 2018

The result is:

2008-2020 284 tons more mercury over this period

So we may do well until 2008, but then things appear to go pear-shaped.

Clear Skies would take today's power plant emissions of mercury (48 tons) down to a cap of 15 tons.
See above

Clear Skies would not change Clean Air Act requirements for sources not covered by Clear Skies.
Not sure how this affects things? Anyone?

In short, the numbers still seem to bear out that "Clean Skies" is not a great idea. Having looked at the numbers, it seems that this site is actually right in its assessment of the new legislation.

Cheers,

Andy


 

charrison

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
17,033
1
81
Originally posted by: Fencer128
Originally posted by: charrison
Originally posted by: Fencer128
Originally posted by: charrison
linkage

reading up at the epa, this plan seems to be doable, affordable and effective. A 70% cut in power plants over the next 15 years is quite an agressive goal after reading this.
Sure, but doesn't the existing legislation do even better? That is the problem I see.

Cheers,

Andy
If you bothered to read the the link posted you would have found the clean skies stacks on top of the current regs. At least such a reference was made several times.
I did "bother" to read your link. I didn't read the links off of that page - which is I guess to what you refer. Please try to be a little civil in your responses.

EDIT: See next post as I think I have worked this out now.

Could you show how the emission regulations in the "clear skies" act work together with the emissions in "the clean power/smokestacks" acts. I don't see how both limits can be effective at the same time? Surely only one can be in force at any time?

i.e. for Clear Skies act

"Cuts sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 73 percent, from current emissions of 11 million tons to a cap of 4.5 million tons in 2010, and 3 million tons in 2018."

and for existing legislation

"`(a) IN GENERAL- Subject to subsections (b) and (c), the Administrator shall promulgate regulations to ensure that, during 2009 and each year thereafter, the total annual emissions of covered pollutants from all electricity generating facilities located in all States does not exceed--

`(1) in the case of sulfur dioxide--

`(A) 275,000 tons in the western region; or

`(B) 1,975,000 tons in the nonwestern region;"

seem mutually exclusive?

Andy

EDIT: See next post as I think I have worked this out now.
I have done some reading on both clear skys and the clean power act. Clears skys seems to compliment the previous clean power act. The clean power act seems to rely heavily on emissions trading and forcing maximum pollution scrubber technology on plant upgrades. However forcing the costly maximum pollution scrubber technology seems to have kept upgrades from happening, so there has been little reduction of pollution from coal plants. However these coal plants are allowed to trade emissions with cleaner natural gas plants, this however does not clean air in the end. This provided incentive to build natural gas plants, but not do anything with the coal plants.

The clear skys plan uses affordable scrubber technology developed from the clean coal research started from the clean power act. This allows current plants to be retrofitted to drastically reduce pollution(~70% less) coming from these smoke stacks. The clear skys also mandates that these scrubbers be installed within a given time frame. Clears skys also grants another $2billion to clean coal projects that are looking into coal liquification that will make new coal plants as clean as natural gas plants
 

glenn1

Lifer
Sep 6, 2000
25,383
1,013
126
Clear Skies Act vs Existing Environmental Legislation - A Step Backwards?
It might be. But it's also just as silly to look at legislative emission targets in a vacuum without taking into account the costs, feasability, and value of those targets being reached. I'm may not be smart enough about the science and economics of the subject matter to make that judgement, but i do trust the qualified scientific voices of the lobby groups on both sides, pro and con regarding this bill, to present their cases to Congress. I just wish our elected officials luck in making a wise and informed judgement in turn.
 

Alistar7

Lifer
May 13, 2002
11,983
0
0
Fencer I am glad to see you are basing your entire arguement off that one osurce. I was the one you were having the discussion with, I brought this act to your attention. Did you ever bother to verify your source's numbers before you started this thread?'

can you find anything else to back it up not from some enviornmental activist group?

 

charrison

Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
17,033
1
81
Originally posted by: Alistar7
Fencer I am glad to see you are basing your entire arguement off that one osurce. I was the one you were having the discussion with, I brought this act to your attention. Did you ever bother to verify your source's numbers before you started this thread?'

can you find anything else to back it up not from some enviornmental activist group?
Those numbers do exist, but the question is are those numbers enforcable. The clean air act does not force the closure of coal plant, nor does it force the adding of scrubbers to coal plants.

Clear sky on the other hand lists the technology and timeline for installing scrubbers on coal plants.
 

Alistar7

Lifer
May 13, 2002
11,983
0
0
That was the impression I got from that act, but I have heard the arguements from the other side on this as well.


Seems to me those power plants are the biggest polluters, at least they are being dealt with instead of being "kyoto'ed" by the Govt.
 

Fencer128

Platinum Member
Jun 18, 2001
2,700
1
71
So to me it seems the choices are:

Impliment "Clear Skies", which raises emission levels compared to existing legislation - but allows for wider complience because it's cheaper (existing legislation too harsh?) Also please remember that existing legislation doesn't become mandatory until 2008-9. "Clear Skies" is enacted before then, but results in much higher pollution levels for all the time after 2008-9.

or

Enforce the numbers in the existing legislation (ie make companies pay for change).

Are we saying that it's ok to excuse companies the numbers in the existing legislation because complience is a financial price they're not willing to pay?

Does anyone have any cost estimates for complience with existing legislation - as well as how well compaines as a whole meet existing legislation?

I still think that Bush seems to be cutting companies a financial break. I would like to think it's because the current emission targets are financially unreachable. I would bet it's more like companies don't want to pay and that "conflict of interest" is at work in the White House. Anyone know what kind of donations for the Republican party/Presidential race came from industries/companies who are likely to make a saving from the "Clear Skies" act?

Call me cynical but it seems the most likely reason,

Cheers for the info,

Andy

Just a quickie! - How does it matter about how some polluters are being dealt with when it's the overall emissions that we should be worried about? (in relation to comments about coal plants).
 

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