EPA chief Johnson resurrects Bush’s “Clear Skies” plan

The Bush administration’s “Clear Skies” air-pollution plan, seven months after its seeming death in Congress, has clawed its way out of the ground and lumbered back to life, moaning and twitching, bits of rotted flesh dropping from its desiccated corpse. (Hey, it’s almost Halloween — sue us.) Speaking before the Senate Environment Committee yesterday, U.S. EPA chief Stephen Johnson argued that while other legislative plans on offer might save more lives, Clear Skies is … cheaper. No really, that was the argument: Johnson said the administration’s approach to curbing emissions from nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury would better balance costs to industry with projected health benefits. The Clear Skies legislation was defeated by the Senate Environment Committee on a 9-9 vote in March. Time will tell whether Johnson’s creepily utilitarian calculus will help break the logjam.