Clear and Present Danger?
For months, the U.S. EPA has withheld findings indicating that President Bush’s proposed “Clear Skies” legislation would lead to more pollution-related deaths than a bipartisan Senate bill to fight air pollution, and that the bipartisan bill would not be much more costly than Clear Skies. A leaked copy of the EPA’s data showed, among other things, that a bill sponsored by Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) would result in 17,800 fewer premature deaths from power plant emissions by 2020 than would the Clear Skies bill. Withholding of the findings is “a real outrage,” said David Hawkins of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They’re playing dodge ball with Congress to push the [Clear Skies] bill.” Many environmentalists are backing even stronger air-pollution legislation sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.). Both the Jeffords and Carper bills would regulate climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions, while Bush refuses to sign on to any CO2 limits, despite a campaign pledge to do so.