Bush admin delays new air-quality rules, pushes “Clear Skies”

The White House has told the U.S. EPA to hold off on issuing the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which would curtail emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, in deference to a renewed push in Congress to pass the Bush administration’s long-stalled “Clear Skies” legislation. Delaying the rule will increase pressure on senators and reps to get Bush’s bill moving, an effort led by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Enviros blasted the administration for putting off a rule they say would help clean the air. Administration officials responded that the rule’s language is mirrored in provisions of Clear Skies. Enviros responded that, yes, but Clear Skies also contains provisions that weaken the Clean Air Act, postponing public-health deadlines on smog and weakening new-source review provisions. Administration officials responded that, well, tough, we won the election.