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Citizenís Call for A National Solution to Power Plant Pollution
Power plant pollution is taking its toll on Americaís health. Mountains of scientific evidence show that it aggravates respiratory problems like asthma and emphysema and shortens lives. At the same time, power plant pollution contributes to some of our worst environmental problems, such as acid rain, ozone damage to trees and crops, mercury contamination of fish and streams, and global climate change. Power plants are the largest industrial source of air pollution, emitting two-thirds of all soot- forming sulfur dioxide, more than a quarter of ozone smog forming nitrogen oxide, forty percent of the U.S.ís carbon dioxide, and thirty-four percent of mercury.
As the debate over energy policy moves forward, all Americans will be affected by the pollution that could result if policy makers fail to protect public health and the environment as they enact policies designed to ensure affordable, reliable energy. The following steps must be taken:
* Strong enforcement of current clean air laws. The Clean Air Act seeks to prevent excess pollution from the oldest and dirtiest facilities. Both state and federal governments must make sure companies obey the law and must hold accountable those that do not.
* New clean air laws for power plants that will dramatically reduce pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, respiratory disease, global warming and mercury contamination.
Studies show that in order to protect public health and restore vital ecosystems, the four major power plant pollutants should be cut by the following amounts by 2007: NOx emissions should be cut by 75 percent from 1997 levels; SO2 emissions should be cut by 75 percent below Phase II of the Clean Air Actís Acid Rain program; mercury emissions should be cut by 90 percent from 1999 levels; and CO2 emissions should be cut to 1990 levels as required by the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by former President Bush and unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate.
* An end to the grandfather loophole that exempts dirty, old coal plants.
Old dirty power plants emit as much as ten times more pollution than modern facilities. They were exempted from modern pollution controls nearly 25 years ago because it was expected that they would be retired and replaced with new clean plants. However, most of these old dirty plants have not retired. There must be some reasonable limit on the grandfather loophole. All power plants on their thirtieth birthday should be required to meet modern emission standards.
As the scientific evidence of adverse health and environmental impacts from power plant pollution mounts, it is clear that we must take steps to clear the air. Our health and our environment demand it.
OHIO GROUPS as of 9/13/01