T Nation

Bush the Environmentalist

I don’t know anything about this plan, really. All I know is that if it is as good as this guy thinks it is, it’s a huge contrast to the massive budget cuts for the EPA.

Clear Skies, No Lies

The New York Times, February 16, 2005

Gregg Easterbrook, Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies


Suppose Al Gore had become president and proposed a law to cut
pollution from power plants by about 70 percent at a low cost, to
discourage the lawsuits that often stall clean-air rules from being
enforced, and to serve as a model for a future system to regulate
greenhouse gases. Chances are Mr. Gore would have been widely
praised. Instead George W. Bush got the White House and announced a
plan to do those very things, yet it has been relentlessly denounced
by Democrats, environmentalists, editorial pages and even characters
in a Doonesbury cartoon.

Critics both real and drawn assert that the program, which is called
Clear Skies and is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee today, is a shocking assault on clean-air
law, an insidious weakening of environmental protections wrapped up
with an Orwellian label. These criticisms are off target, except it
is true that Clear Skies is a really dumb name.

Mr. Bush’s proposal would cut by more than 70 percent the amounts of
sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury emitted by power plants.
The first two substances cause acid rain and contribute to
respiratory disease; the third is a poison. The plan would also
permanently cap plant emissions nationwide, meaning that pollutant
levels must not rise no matter how much more power is generated in
the future. The proposed cap for sulfur dioxide is 90 percent lower
than the amount emitted in 1970; the cap for nitrogen oxide is 94
percent lower than 1970.

So, under the Bush plan - supposedly a sellout to industry - sulfur
dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the two power-plant emissions of most
concern to public health, would be nearly eliminated as compared with
levels in 1970. Clear Skies would also moot the long-running
controversy over the “new source review” rule, which may require
operators of the old power plants in the Midwest to add pollution
controls when those plants are modified. Those plants too would have
to participate in the 70 percent overall reduction, a deeper cut than
required by any interpretation of the “new source” standard.

Opponents of Clear Skies rightly note that existing Clean Air Act
language already mandates somewhat greater reductions than the Bush
plan - for instance, a 93 percent cut in sulfur dioxide from the
levels in 1970, versus Clear Skies’ 90 percent - and that the
reductions must be complete by 2012, rather than by 2018 as in Mr.
Bush’s bill. But here’s the rub: the existing Clean Air Act, though
successful, is a complex set of rules that requires a case-by-case
drawing up of plans for states, localities and even individual power
plants. A raft of lawsuits often accompanies every Clean Air Act
regulation - it is common for both industry and environmental
organizations to sue to block the same set of rules. This is why, on
average, it takes about a decade to complete a Clean Air Act
rulemaking.

The Clear Skies plan would replace that case-by-case system with a
streamlined “cap and trade” approach. This plan simply sets an
overall reduction for the power industry as a whole, then leaves it
up to companies and plant managers to decide for themselves how to
meet the mandates, including by trading permits to one another.

In practice, cap-and-trade systems have proved faster, cheaper and
less vulnerable to legal stalling tactics than the “command and
control” premise of most of the Clean Air Act. For example, a pilot
cap-and-trade system, for sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power
plants, was enacted by Congress in 1990. Since then sulfur dioxide
emissions have fallen by nearly a third (the reason you hear so
little about acid rain these days is that the problem is declining -
even though the amount of combustion of coal for electricity has
risen.)

A pleasant surprise of that 1990 program was that market forces and
lack of litigation rapidly drove down the predicted cost of acid-rain
controls. Now Mr. Bush proposes to apply the same cap-and-trade
approach to the entire power industry, in the hope that market forces
and fewer lawsuits will lead to rapid, relatively inexpensive
pollution cuts.

Here is the real beauty of the Clear Skies plan, something that even
its backers may not see: many economists believe that the best tool
for our next great environmental project, restraining greenhouse
gases, will be a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide. Should
President Bush’s plan prove that the power industry as a whole can be
subjected to a sweeping cap-and-trade rule without suffering economic
harm or high costs, that would create a powerful case to impose
similar regulation on carbon dioxide, too.

Though you’d never know it from the press coverage, the
administration’s idea has respectable support - from the National
Research Council, which is a wing of the National Academy of
Sciences, and from the former Environmental Protection Agency
administrator Christie Whitman, who since leaving the administration
has become a leading critic of the Republican right.

Yes, as in any lawmaking, there is a legitimate danger that factions
in Congress will insert into the Bush bill language that does dilute
environmental protection. But the underlying idea of the president’s
proposal is sound and deserves support, even from the comics page.

Seems like a good example showing that good government does not mean spending more money. That’s the advantage of having a president with an MBA.

The scary thing that I see developing is that the Dems attack these types of programs merely because it was put forth by the Republicans. You are correct. Pure politics, screw the rest of the country. If Al Gore came up with it, they would be salivating.

Uhmm…
Do we even need to discuss the presidents enviromental record. It’s bad, repubs don’t care end of story.

But in short they cancelled all the cases that clinton had going when he left against polluters. Those cases bring in cash to the treasury. His laws were stricter in less time.

Bush isn’t going to fine anyone, more pollution allowed, deadlines further away, Whitman trashes his policy all the time (Now).

Reminder pollution is bad. It kills thousands every year, defects thousands of babies. Those are fellow americans, we are supposed to care about them, remember? Also i’d like to eat my tuna without worrying about mercury.

so yeah laws that allow more pollution make some people that care about america and americans angry (and yes that includes democrats.)

So what about the policy that was posted? Any thoughts on that?

Bush the Environmentalist?
Bwahahahahahah!!! Oh stop it…you’re killin’ me. Breathe…breathe. Oh my god…
O.K. I’m better now.
I work for EPA. We all dressed in black on his inauguration day…both times.
The Republications choose industry over the environment every time. And yes, it’s all political.

[quote]gojira wrote:
Bush the Environmentalist?
Bwahahahahahah!!! Oh stop it…you’re killin’ me. Breathe…breathe. Oh my god…
O.K. I’m better now.
I work for EPA. We all dressed in black on his inauguration day…both times.
The Republications choose industry over the environment every time. And yes, it’s all political. [/quote]

Gimmee a freakin break. Do You actually believe that the EPA can save the environment? All you do is waste tax dollars. What started out as a noble idea quickly turned into just another government subsidized cluster fuck.

Are you saying that, if left to their own devices, the EPA wouldn’t be political? Horseshit - and you know it. The EPA does nothing - and I mean NO THING - to contribute to the environmental health of this nation - except employ folks that are too lazy to get a real job, and have no qualms about ruining a small farmer’s life. Playa-lakes are wetlands? The EPA should be abolished.

"Easterbrook’s latest missive, “Clear Skies, No Lies,” regurgitates arguments and statistics fabricated by the nation’s largest polluters and oft cited by the Bush-Cheney administration in its war on our environmental protections – particularly when touting its “Clear Skies” bill.

He repeats the misleading statement that there is support for the Clear Skies “approach” from respectable sources, but omits the fact that those sources have merely supported a cap and trade system, not the weakened targets and timetables that are at the heart of the Clear Skies initiative itself.

He appears disingenuous or misinformed when he claims that when Clear Skies shows industry that a “sweeping” cap and trade system can be cost-effective, industry just might get on board. On the contrary, the Clean Air Act’s Acid Rain Trading Program has already demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of such programs, which is why forward-looking companies (and Senators McCain and Lieberman) are already supporting a mandatory cap and trade program to address global warming. Yet Bush-Cheney friends and donors from the nation’s biggest polluting companies have shown no inclination to get on board; indeed, they successfully lobbied Bush to reverse his campaign promise to regulate power plant emissions of global warming’s major contributor, carbon dioxide."

When companies donate tons of money so that they can pollute more, and the whitehouse hires the polluters to write the legislation, can’t you just say the the president doesn’t care about the enviroment.

Unfortunately this lack of carrying kills americans, destroys parts of america, limits my tuna consumption, and cost me and other concerned voters and taxpayers billions and billions of dollar in healthcare(public and private) and in needless cleanup.

Just one of hundreds of reasons to never vote for conservatives.

100

So are you saying that you would not support cleaner air if it was accomplished using no or less tax dollars because of a massive Right Wing Conspiracy.

Just trying to find out what you would support to clean the air?

Your final comment about never voting for a conservative seems overly partisan. Are you saying you would prefer dirty air if a Liberal can’t find a way to clean it up.

100meters,

“Easterbrook’s latest missive, “Clear Skies, No Lies,” regurgitates arguments and statistics fabricated by the nation’s largest polluters and oft cited…”

I don’t think you wrote this. Wanna give the credit to the deserving party?

100meters,

Nevermind, I did the readers the favor:

Only one thing worse than being an imbecile: being unoriginal and plagiarizing in order to pass off original ideas as your own.

hence the quotes,
but yeah this kind of stuff is easy to debunk with things like oh, google.

why don’t you guys go save the world then? sounds like you guys have all the answers.

I think the EPA does in fact need money to CLEAN UP what has already been polluted. Reducing pollution and emission rates should ideally not cost anything, but where’s the profitability for businesses? I know the MA EPA has had its budget cut another 30% this year, so it is down about 60% or something since the Clinton-era. There are huge mounds from old buffalo hide tanneries which are packed full of arsenic, toxic metals, you name it, and the watersheds here are in horrible shape. That does take a budget to clean up.

Easterbrook has been covering this issue for a long time – he’s a writer/editor for The Atlantic Monthly as well as The New Republic.

And he’s generally a “green” guy – he rails against SUVs and global warming. It’s just that he’s examined this issue and knows when the environmental lobby is crying wolf – much like it was when it claimed Bush wanted to “poison the water” by leaving in place the Clinton-era arsenic standards that had somehow managed to keep us non-poisoned the previous 8 years (he negated a final-hour Clinton executive order to raise the standards – thus, he was “poisoning” us).

The cap-and-trade system is a great solution. Unfortunately, from the perspsective of the Chicken Littles, it’s not command-and-control Marxism – whether it would be more effective at stopping pollution is apparently beside the point.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/091704F.html

In Defense of the President’s Environmental Record
By Max Borders

While the environment remains at the bottom of the priority list for US voters ( http://www.aei.org/docLib/20040423_Environment2.pdf ), a number of factions continue nevertheless to flail wildly at the President on his green record – claiming that his administration’s work on the environment is poor, or worse:

* The League of Conservation Voters -- gave President George W. Bush an 'F' on the organization's 2003 Report Card 

* The Children's Environmental Health Network -- gave the Bush Administration an 'F' for "how well it has protected children from environmental threats?" 

* The National Park Conservation Association -- said "President Bush receives a D for his record to date on national parks." 

But why is the Administration receiving such low marks? Is there any truth to the claim that Bush cares not-a-jot about the environment? Are any of these so-called “report cards” even fair?

While partisanship has much to do with how the President is scored, there are some other factors at play. Indeed, it is important to investigate the criteria upon which so many of these reports are judged. For example, many groups judge the Administration on the volume of environmental legislation it enacts, or how many regulations it imposes. Other groups base their criteria on ways in which the President has rolled back or softened environmental legislation already in place.

On these criteria alone, Bush would score an ‘F,’ as thinking among the some folks at the Bush Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department is, in many respects, a completely new philosophy for making environmental improvements – one that deemphasizes such obsolete criteria. The “new” environmentalism is a philosophy that seeks to steer away from the method of imposing costly regulations that often result in deleterious consequences. And the new environmentalism replaces such wasteful regulatory approaches of Bush’s predecessors with a nod to economic realities. Such a philosophy can be distilled into three memorable mantras: “markets before mandates;” “counting costs and benefits” and “cooperative conservation.”

Markets before mandates

This tenet represents the lesson not only that regulation can have negative unforeseen consequences, but that markets harness the ingenuity of the involved players. One such move is exemplified by departing from the New Source Review paradigm to the Clear Skies Initiative, the latter of which has been mischaracterized in all the ways one might expect from a successful program carried out by the Right. In fact, Greens have lamented the defanging of New Source Review – the outmoded fixture of the Clean Air Act, which gave the EPA the power to sue polluting companies that failed to comply with its standards – however draconian. This year, one EPA enforcer, Eric Shaeffer, resigned from his position in disgust: “I cannot leave without sharing my frustration about the fate of our enforcement actions against power companies,” stated Schaeffer in his resignation letter. “It is no longer possible to pretend that the ongoing debate with the White House and Department of Energy is not affecting our ability to negotiate settlements. ? [W]e have filed no new lawsuits against utility companies since this Administration took office.”

Why did the Administration do away with New Source Review? The Bush Administration – via Clear Skies – has moved to a system of cap-and-trade, which addresses almost every metric of air pollution, including Sulfur Dioxide, Mercury and Nitrous Oxides. It works like this: instead of coercing a coal-burning company to retrofit its smokestacks with ten-year-old technology, or worse, to completely overhaul its facilities (at the threat of lawsuit) until it has bankrupted itself, the company is given an incentive either to buy pollution credits from a cleaner company or to use the latest technology to bring down its own emissions. Many companies end up reducing enough to sell credits to other polluters. Curiously, one wonders why Greens haven’t found it more cost effective to buy pollution permits and retire them, rather than lobby Congress for more legislation? But most are stuck in the old paradigm which says more (legislation) is better.

The aggregate effect of pollution trading is reduction in air pollution – done more efficiently and at a lower cost to all the parties involved (including the government). In short, the Administration has begun to look for win-win-win situations. Of course, opponents balk at this approach, claiming it represents a win only for corporate interests – as if such interests aren’t tied up with those of the government and taxpayers, and as if it is impossible for companies to be successful without ruining the environment.

But the application of Clear Skies means it has been unnecessary to introduce much in the way of new regulations. How does that translate to someone set in the old thinking? “Bush is doing nothing for the environment.” But nothing could be further from the truth.

Counting costs and benefits The Bush Administration has also phased out regulations that either end up doing more harm than good, or that end up costing too much money. For example, in the past the National Parks had to depend on appropriations by Congress in order to get maintenance revenues. Given the bureaucratic hurdles and logrolling that went on at the federal level, there had to be an imminent emergency before the government was willing to spend money on parks.

To remedy this, the President has been trying to make permanent a trial program enacted in Congress in 1996 called “Fee Demonstration,” in which park visitors pay a small fee to enjoy the amenities of Federal lands. Only twenty percent of the monies collected by the Parks had to be returned to the US treasury while the rest stayed in the parks. The result? Park managers have had greater control over resources and could budget according to their onsite needs. In the meantime, these revenues help reduce what amounts to a tax subsidy for predominantly wealthy park visitors and the parks have been able to make local improvements that require less from the Feds (and thus also taxpayers who don’t use the parks). The program in its current form is due to expire in September. More improvement in this area is needed, as federally managed lands operate at a deficit due to forest fires and other expensive problems, many of which are a direct result of the bureaucracy’s inability to deal effectively with nearly 1/3 of the landmass in the US.

Another change in the Bush approach has been to phase out resources for Superfund, including corporate taxes for such projects. Opponents argue that reducing our commitment to Superfund amounts to the Administration turning its back on sites with toxins that are harmful to nearby communities. In truth, however, the government understands that it has finite resources. The President’s move away from Superfund more than suggests he is aware of this fact and has placed a greater emphasis on risk analysis, costs and benefits.

Environmental economist Richard Stroup explains the political problem of risk like this:

“Much of the environmental policy in the United States is driven by the fact that voters see potential gains from reducing risk through the political process. They believe that they benefit and they think that giant, faceless corporations pay for those benefits. While they may act quite differently on an individual level (for example, they may be quite willing to bear small risks), as voters they tend to support heavy expenditures to reduce risks, however small.”

So, the government could do better – statistically speaking – than spending 2 million dollars to save a life, especially if there is another option to spend $60,000 to save a life, say, by putting a guardrail on an interstate. Superfund projects tend to resemble the former scenario, according to economists like Stroup. And the Bush Administration realizes this even though Superfund has somehow become a symbol of active, responsible environmental legislation. It turns out, Superfund is an immense money-sink that has made marginal improvements to the environment, coming at the expense of human lives.

Cooperative conservation

Most environmental problems are local. The Bush administration has begun to understand that coping with a zillion local problems involves applying some sort of subsidiarity approach. That means the government had to ask itself: how can we overcome the insurmountable problems associated with so many complicated, costly problems distributed around the country? The answer, thinks the Administration, lies in engaging communities rather than issuing directives. Therefore, cooperative conservation relies on encouraging interested parties to work out mutually beneficial solutions at the most local feasible level. Such an approach helps to tackle what economists call “information problems,” which bureaucracies have been notoriously bad at addressing.

For example, a group of Pennsylvania farmers initiated a project to reclaim 100 miles of streams and riparian areas along Buffalo Creek in their home state. These farmers engage in conservation as partners and participants, not as parties forced by Washington’s hand. Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett, in an interview with Grist Magazine had this to say in reference to the new approach ( http://www.gristmagazine.com/maindish/scarlett011204.asp ):

“There is an edifice out there of standards, virtually all of which remain in place. A lot of the controversies have been around what’s the next step in standards – do we add an additional increment in such-and-so emission or do we add an additional type of emission to the suite of things we already regulate? Or do we invest our energy in bigger-bang achievements that come from cooperative conservation?”

The Interior has begun to see itself as facilitator and information provider, a tack which allows them more effectively to harness the energies of parties on the ground, rather than wasting money trying to get people just to budge. In some ways, it means leaving the stick for the carrot. And such has required a radical shift in thinking, one that has simply not made the radar screens of the mainstream Media.

This problem is a result of what one might call the “iconic scraps of legislation” problem. For example, in one clause of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the whole business of “listing” species became symbolic of the entire piece of legislation. That means, if the Administration fails to spend resources finding, listing, and protecting new species, they are found wanting in their commitments to the ESA. Meanwhile, many formerly listed species are not only rebounding, but thriving. Superfund and the Clean Air and Water Acts have similar icons, which people hold up as standards of environmental improvement while ignoring real developments, such as those detailed in this year’s Index of Environmental Indicators, a joint publication of the Pacific Research Institute and the American Enterprise Institute ( http://www.pacificresearch.org/centers/ces/ ).

But the critics of the Bush eco-record aren’t just on the Left. The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a free-market environmental group, said “President Bush doesn’t quite score a “gentleman’s C” in PERC’s new Mid-Term Report Card?” While PERC’s economically sound approaches to environmental improvement are among the smartest going, they also come across as the most radical. That is to say, free-market environmentalism is not yet politically viable. Many at PERC believe that the government should not only privatize federal lands, but dismantle the entire environmental regulatory superstructure in order to replace it with a thoroughly Common Law system based on strict property rights. Believe it or not, these are good ideas, but tough to transform into political reality – given both the status quo and the ease of translating these concepts to voters. In any case, we can see how, by PERC’s standards, the Administration would be given a C-, as the BLM isn’t going anywhere and the environmental regulatory edifice is still largely in place.

And it’s precisely in the area of communicating the Administration’s own policies and achievements that Bush should receive an F. The President is fortunate in that, overall, people care more about matters of security and economic stability than the environment. The administration has been woefully inadequate in communicating its grand visions of markets before mandates, counting costs and benefits, and cooperative conservation. That is not to say that Mike Leavitt and Gail Norton have not had a Herculean task in getting across both the philosophy and the progress that has been made. But given the current perceptions of the electorate and the skepticism of the Media, the message, sadly, has been lost.

The good Administration has done for the environment may never be realized in our history books. But despite the immense political impediments to implementing a paradigm shift, the President has done a good job. In fact, He deserves a B.

The author is a TCS contributor. He recently wrote about Libertarian Hawks.

BB:

I see what that article is getting at, but I see a few issues there. One, with Superfund sites, while circumventing the issue may be more cost effective short-term, I doubt most sites are actually contained. The Clean Air Act seems to be a US version of the Kyoto Protocol. I don’t think it is as useless as the Kyoto Protocol, but the analogy is there. Why does he state there is an “incentive” for buying credits or reducing pollution, shouldn’t it be mandatory? Also, his statements about Greens buying the credits themselves is kind of ridiculous. Hippies don’t have money.

Anyway, the president should be pushing for alternative energies much more strongly.

Side note: My school is having a debate between Ann Coulter and Peter Beinart. Should be spicy. Do any conservatives actually take Coulter seriously? From her op/ed pieces, I consider her one of the most worthless humans alive. I have no knowledge of Beinart, I assume he’s similar.

[quote]veruvius wrote:
BB:

I see what that article is getting at, but I see a few issues there. One, with Superfund sites, while circumventing the issue may be more cost effective short-term, I doubt most sites are actually contained. [/quote]

I don’t know myself. It seems that this is one area in which we definitely need to test and get expert opinions.

There’s a real problem with Superfund liability issues, in that often the entity that actually profited from doing the polluting is long gone – out of business, merged out of existence, etc. I don’t see that punishing shareholders of different entities is a good solution, but I would have to read up more so see what other options are available.

Also, I don’t think the article was claiming that all the Superfund sites had been completely resovled – rather, that spending a lot of tax dollars to completely eliminate all risks from Superfund sites was not an efficient use of tax dollars.

I would probably agree. I wouldn’t support the Clean Air Act either.

BTW, did you check out this link:

http://www.pacificresearch.org/centers/ces/

It seems to indicate that by most measures, our air and water are cleaner, and species are doing better, now than previously.

I’ve seen other graphs and whatnot that show a constant improvement trend over the last 30 years (I think that was the time period), with little variation depending on the administration, and the biggest gains coming in the past (makes sense if there was more pollution to remove).

Well, yes and no. I believe the policy works by setting certain minimum standards, and then allows companies who exceed them to attain “credits” that can be sold to companies who do not meet them. There is an economic incentive to generate credits, provided they don’t cost more than the price they can attain. A very good market idea – it forces polluters to internalize their costs, but incorporates a firm-level cost-benefit analysis into the decision-making process.

Most hippies don’t have any money. However, Green Peace, The Sierra Club, the various PIRG organizations, and others, seem to have quite a lot of it to spread around with lobbying and political ad campaigns.

For national defense reasons I think this is true. As a matter of economics I don’t believe it’s necessary. At any rate, we already have a great alternative energy source in nuclear energy, though companies have not been able to build new facilities for going-on 30 years. Amusingly, it seems that the car companies are on the forefront of developing such alternative energy sources as hydrogen engines and whatnot, but they won’t be developed further until they are cost effective.

Coulter is very smart, but I wouldn’t put her in charge of diplomacy… Seriously, if you look at her credentials it is obvious she is intelligent, but she is marketing herself to a certain niche on the conservative – the kind that like hyperbole and think liberals are all evil. She does that very successfully – I’d be willing to trade her paycheck for mine, sight unseen. Kind of like Michael Moore…

Yes, the air, water, and environment in general has been getting better. But of course, 50 years ago, there weren’t really any regulations on toxic substances. Considering our output of pollutants has been declining along with cleaning up, something would be wrong if it wasn’t getting better. But PRI doesn’t have science or facts to back up some of their claims. I just looked at their articles on Climate Change, because that’s what I know about. I can’t find that article again, but they made the allusion “if global warming causes warmer winters, and warmer winters mean less energy use…” In fact, European winters would become much colder if thermohaline circulation (deep ocean heat transfer) was disrupted (Scotland is the same latitude as Alaska). Global warming is certainly real, though not to the expected degree.

If I get a research grant for this summer, I will be working with my advisor to actually solve the fuel cell cost problem. It has to do with catalytically oxidizing CO with platinum, which is the expensive part.

Coulter is at least as bad as Michael Moore. Maybe its just because I lean to the liberal side a bit, but I don’t think Michael Moore is as bad, just because Coulter sounds like a conspiracy theorist at times, but I guess Moore does too. Have you heard of Beinart before? I assume he has to be pretty outrageous to be paired with Ann Coulter.

[quote]veruvius wrote:
Yes, the air, water, and environment in general has been getting better. But of course, 50 years ago, there weren’t really any regulations on toxic substances. Considering our output of pollutants has been declining along with cleaning up, something would be wrong if it wasn’t getting better. But PRI doesn’t have science or facts to back up some of their claims. I just looked at their articles on Climate Change, because that’s what I know about. I can’t find that article again, but they made the allusion “if global warming causes warmer winters, and warmer winters mean less energy use…” In fact, European winters would become much colder if thermohaline circulation (deep ocean heat transfer) was disrupted (Scotland is the same latitude as Alaska). Global warming is certainly real, though not to the expected degree.

If I get a research grant for this summer, I will be working with my advisor to actually solve the fuel cell cost problem. It has to do with catalytically oxidizing CO with platinum, which is the expensive part.

Coulter is at least as bad as Michael Moore. Maybe its just because I lean to the liberal side a bit, but I don’t think Michael Moore is as bad, just because Coulter sounds like a conspiracy theorist at times, but I guess Moore does too. Have you heard of Beinart before? I assume he has to be pretty outrageous to be paired with Ann Coulter.[/quote]

I know you weren’t asking me, but Beinart isn’t outrageous like mann coulter, His thing now is that the dems need to push harder on the war on terror, I think he’s writing a book about it right now. And I’ve seen coulter do her annoying act one on one with Beinart before, he had a kind of rolling his eyes kind of attitude towards her.

This should make people happy…

New Federal Rule Resets
Limits on Soot and Smog

Associated Press
March 10, 2005 12:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration set new limits on smog and soot pollution Thursday with the aim of benefiting tens of millions of people who live downwind of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the East, South and Midwest.

The new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency covers 28 states mostly east of the Mississippi River. It requires most of them to cut smog-forming nitrogen oxides and soot-producing sulfur dioxide that can drift by wind long distances across state lines, according to Environmental Defense, a research and advocacy group that government officials briefed on the new regulations.

The EPA’s new “Clean Air Interstate Rule” will require phased-in reductions in the volume of air pollution that states can allow. By 2015, the nation’s pollution from nitrogen oxides would be reduced by 61% below 2003 levels. Sulfur dioxide pollution would be reduced by 73%.

The regulations will help states and counties meet new federal standards for healthy air. The agency said 474 counties around the country have too much smog and 224 counties have too much soot.

President Bush’s premier environmental proposal, the co-called Clear Skies bill, was dealt a setback in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday after the panel’s Republican leaders failed to break a deadlock over the measure. The EPA regulations released today are part of a fallback position for the administration.

The EPA estimates the new rule also will prevent 17,000 premature deaths, 22,000 nonfatal heart attacks and 700,000 respiratory ailments from bronchitis and asthma each year, and reduce haze afflicting parks and forests.

It is up to states to decide how best to achieve those reductions, but the rule envisions that the most cost-effective way is to require power plants to install new scrubbers for sulfur dioxide or chemical processes for nitrogen oxides.

“This is going to provide a big boost across the eastern United States for communities suffering from unhealthy particulate and smog pollution levels,” said Vickie Patton, an attorney for Environmental Defense.

But the rule also is expected to boost consumers’ monthly electric bills by at least a few cents within 15 years. The EPA said the benefits outweigh the costs, dollar for dollar, 25-to-1. By 2015, the agency said, the new rule would bring up to $100 billion in yearly benefits, compared with about $4 billion in yearly costs.

Homeowners in the U.S. now spend on average about $70 a month for electricity, according to industry figures. The new rule isn’t expected to result in any significant changes in retail electricity prices between now and 2020, the agency has said. But, the agency estimated, it would add a fraction of a penny to the cost of each kilowatt hour by 2020, boosting the average U.S. customer’s monthly electricity bill by up to $1.

It is difficult to predict to what extent utilities will pass on costs to consumers, said Jim Owen, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a lobby group for power companies.

“It likely will be very company-specific and may vary by region,” he said. “Whatever the eventual cost may be for individual customers, one thing is certain: The requirements of the Clean Air Interstate Rule combined with the pending mercury regulation will require one of the single-largest capital expenditures on air pollution controls in U.S. history.”

Copyright ? 2005 Associated Press