TU Decries Lack of Compromise on Clean Air Legislation
New rules amount to minor progress, but are inferior to legislation
WASHINGTON - The national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) today expressed disappointment at the failure of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to pass a strong, bipartisan clean air bill. Earlier this week, the committee deadlocked 9-9 on the administration-backed Clear Skies Initiative. Republican leaders on the committee failed to amend the bill sufficiently to reach a compromise with the seven Democrats, one Independent, and one Republican who voted against it.
Trout Unlimited's members in the East seek reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in order to reduce acid deposition in the region's mountain streams and lakes. Many of the mountain watersheds affected by acid rain also include some of the best habit for brook trout, the East's only native trout.
"In the end, the caps in Clear Skies on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides would have benefited mountain streams and lakes in the Appalachians," said Leon Szeptycki, TU's Eastern Conservation Director. "The bill, however, simply contained too many regulatory giveaways, particularly on mercury, to pass with bipartisan support.
We believe that a more straightforward bill, with good caps and fewer rollbacks of existing Clean Air Act programs, would pass with strong bipartisan support and bring tremendous benefits to the whole country." The bill also deadlocked because of failure to reach agreement about how to handle emissions of CO2.
Trout Unlimited urged Congress to revisit the issue and attempt to forge a strong, bipartisan compromise.
Trout Unlimited did express support for the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) today announced by the EPA. The CAIR would provide for caps in acid rain-causing emissions in Eastern states in order to meet air quality standards. "We would prefer to see lower caps, and we would prefer nationwide caps. We would also ideally like to see the caps implemented more quickly," said Szeptycki. "But the CAIR will ensure that sulfur dioxide emissions will continue to shrink, and will provide relief to our mountain trout waters. The rule certainly represents some positive progress in the absence of better legislation."