Bush Team Unveils Plan to Cut Smog-Forming Pollution

A new rule proposed yesterday by the Bush administration would cut emissions of smog- and soot-causing pollutants from power plants in the Midwest and East — but not deeply or quickly enough, say enviros. The plan would reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution by implementing a market-based cap-and-trade system that would allow utilities to buy and sell the right to pollute (similar to the recently announced system to control mercury emissions, but less controversial). U.S. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt claimed that the rule — widely seen as a partial substitute for Bush’s “Clear Skies” legislation, which is stalled in Congress — would help states meet pollution-reduction targets mandated by the Clean Air Act. “It’s progress, but it’s too little, too late,” said John Thompson of the Clean Air Task Force. Industry lobbyists were generally pleased with the rule, but expressed a preference for the stalled legislation and its deeper regulatory rollbacks.